Clai is a 6th year MD/Ph.D student in her 4th year in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department in the laboratory of Dr. Alan Tackett and Dr. Isabelle Racine Miousse
She has a BS in Chemistry from Southern Arkansas University
Research Interest Statement
Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy has drastically improved outcomes in treating cancer, particularly in melanoma. However, half of melanoma patients are resistant to treatment. One mechanism used by tumor cells to evade immune attack is to down-regulate major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules, which are required for cytotoxic CD8+ T-cells to eliminate cancer cells. To increase immunotherapeutic efficacy, it is critical to identify how to restore MHC-I expression on cancer cells so that tumor antigens are presented. We found that resveratrol elevated MHC-I expression, thereby improving CD8+ T-cell killing. Through proteomic interrogation, we identified the STING pathway as a potential mechanism of action. Further studies indicated that resveratrol-mediated STING signaling induced MHC-I expression through both interferon-independent and dependent pathways. Our results have uncovered the ability of STING to induce MHC-I expression independent of interferon signaling, broadening the potential of STING activation as a tool to improve immune checkpoint blockade.
Something Notable about Time as a Graduate Student
On my desk I have two quotes, one is from Joan Didion from The Year of Magical Thinking (“Read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information is control) and the other is from Merlin Sheldrake from Entangled Life (“What’s astonishing is the gulf between what we expect to find and what we find when we actually look”). Over the course of my studies, I’ve learned that being a scientist is an interplay between empowering yourself to ask good questions through information and expecting that the answers could be far away from what you imagined. I’m taking Didion’s quote a bit out of context for my purposes, but I relate to it in context as well.
As an MD/PhD student, my immediate tasks proceeding my PhD are returning to medical school to finish my medical education and then moving on to medical residency. My goal is to match into a dermatology residency program. I would like to continue contributing to research throughout the rest of my medical training. Post-residency, I plan on seeking an academic position and splitting my time between clinic and research. I would like to focus on inflammatory skin diseases and clarify targetable pathways for treatment. Health equity is also important to me. Currently I’m reading Health Communism by Artie Vierkant and Beatrice Adler-Bolton, and it really forces me to reconcile to the negative social processes that my fields help enable. When I become a physician-scientist, using my insight on both fields and how they serve as a source of knowledge and beneficence but also of capital, I plan on being involved in work progressing social justice initiatives to reach better health for all.
Experiment or Technique You would Most Like to Do
Honestly, I’m less interested in the performance of the experiments themselves, I’m more so into developing questions and plans to answer them. So, I’d like to do whatever answers the question.
I like kpop; I can list all 22 members of NCT in age-order! I implore you to listen to “Sticker” by NCT 127.
The evolving clinical landscape for dendritic cell vaccines and cancer immunotherapy MJ Cannon, MS Block, LC Morehead, KL Knutson Immunotherapy 11 (2), 75-79
Further clinical advancement of dendritic cell vaccination against ovarian cancer LC Morehead, MJ Cannon Annals of research hospitals 2
Differences in cell death in methionine versus cysteine depletion KF Wallis, LC Morehead, JT Bird, SD Byrum, IR Miousse Environmental and molecular mutagenesis 62 (3), 216-226
Best Talk – 35th National MD/PhD Conference Diversity Award – 35th and 37th National MD/PhD Conference Melanoma Research Foundational Medical Student Award