Portrait of a Grad Student - Nor Fazila Che Mat
My name is Nor Fazila Che Mat and I am currently in the second year of doctoral studies at Queen's University. Working under the supervision of Dr. Katrina Gee, our research broadly focuses on cytokine regulation and signaling in human immune cells. My research project involves looking at the effect of HIV infection on IL-23 induced signaling and function in human CD4 T cells. CD4 T cells play an important role in the control of many viral infections, as well as being critical for the development and maintenance of functional CD8 responses. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pathogenesis leads to CD4 T cell depletion which results in the progressive loss of immune system function that manifests as AIDS.
Of particular interest to my project was the finding that HIV-infected patients produce significantly less IL-12 compare to healthy controls. This lack of IL-12 production may play an important but as yet undefined role in disease progression. Interestingly, the use of IL-12 in anti-HIV therapies is currently being investigated. Furthermore, how HIV infection impacts the function and expression of IL-23 is not understood. Since IL-12 and IL-23 share common functionality, we hypothesize that infection with HIV may result in a similar diminished IL-23 production. My project compares blood samples from HIV-infected patients (Clinical Immunology Outpatient Clinic, Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston Ontario) grouped according to viral load, treatment and also co-infection with hepatitis C virus, prior to analysis for IL-23 production and functionality. This project has allowed me to perform many different kinds of experiments such as Western Blotting analysis, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis, Flow Cytometry analysis and also Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA).
Photos: Poster presentation at the 2008 Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) Research Conference, Toronto, ON (left). The Gee Lab members show lab love with personalized T-shirts (right). From left to right: Ila Che Mat (PhD Candidate), Christina Guzzo (Phd Candidate), Amit Ayer (Fourth year student), Dr. Katrina Gee, Brandon Davidson (Technologist), and Alexiel Zhang (MSc Candidate).
For further information, contact Dr. Gee