Garvan student wins prestigious immunology award
Garvan PhD student Sandra Gardam
18 December 2007
At its annual conference in early December, the Australasian Society of Immunology awarded Garvan PhD student, Sandra Gardam, its prestigious New Investigator Award.
Those shortlisted were invited to present their work to the entire conference and then field questions from the audience. The award is based on the merit of the research and the performance of the researcher.
Sandra admitted to being nervous before the presentation, but proud of her performance and very pleased with the audience response.
Sandra's research looks at B cells, the cells that produce antibodies. She has been investigating the mechanisms that ensure we have the right number of B cells in our bodies.
"If you have too many B cells, then your body might attack itself," she said. "If you have too few then you can't fight infections so you get sick more often. So obviously your body has to maintain exactly the right number of B cells."
"I've been looking at a couple of proteins that exist inside our B cells that help control this process."
"By removing these proteins from mice, we've shown that these mice have a lot more B cells than they should. This tells us that the proteins are negative regulators of B cell homeostasis. In other words, they can tip our natural equilibrium in an unhealthy way."
Sandra's research has implications for a number of diseases, including cancers and autoimmune conditions.