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Undergraduate Research Program

Alexie Carletti

Carletti, Alexie
Major: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Josh Woodward, Microbiology

Contact: lexcarle@uw.edu

Current research project: Determination of Segmented Filamentous Bacteria Colonization and Dysbiosis in the Intestines of Mice Lacking RECON, a Newly Described Pattern Recognition Receptor

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Recently, our lab discovered the first bacterial cyclic dinucleotide pattern recognition receptor, RECON. Work in vitro has characterized how RECON controls NF-kB and in turn controls inflammatory gene activation. In my project, we want to determine if loss of RECON affects bacterial growth in vivo. We have recently made a RECON knockout mouse and a preliminary histology work up of this mouse revealed they have segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) bloom in their small intestines with low-grade inflammation. We are quantitatively determining whether SFB is indeed colonizing the RECON KO mice and if there is dysbiosis among other gut floral species.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
My junior year I took a microbiology class as a prerequisite for dental school, but little did I know that I would fall in love with the material. I joined my professor’s lab and found my passion for research and learning that had previously been missing. Being able to synthesize material I have learned in my microbiology and immunology classes and apply it to my specific project, has contributed to my understanding of what being a scientist means and the context of science in broader society.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Getting started in research your freshman or sophomore year gives you time to grow in the lab and develop your skills. It is amazing how much knowledge you gain from hands on work versus classroom learning!