Environmental variability and stochastic differences between cells can lead to differences in single cell behavior. C. albicans is the cause of a potentially fatal infection in immunocompromised patients. It is a dimorphic fungus, capable of living as either yeast or an invasive filamentous form. Macrophages are among the first immune cells to respond to C. albicans invasion, but when we observe individual interactions, we see considerable heterogeneity with regards to macrophage success in controlling C. albicans. To better understand this heterogeneity, we are constructing a high-throughput automated image analysis pipeline that will allow visualization and quantification of these interactions. We use CellProfiler to measure the size, shape, and phenotype of both macrophages and C. albicans, allowing us associate these parameters with the heterogeneity in the outcomes. To assess our pipeline and identify host factors that determine the outcome of the macrophage-C. albicans interaction, we will stimulate macrophages with a range of cytokines that foster clearance of C. albicans. Ultimately, this analysis will allow us to determine how macrophages control C. albicans, data that will foster new directions for treating C. albicans infections.
PROJECT: Quantifying host-pathogen interface using image analysis
Doing research at the Broad Institute has been an empowering experience for me. It was incredible getting the opportunity to contribute intellectually to the latest cutting-edge research involving science and medicine. Also, presenting my research to scientists who are leaders in their fields inspired me to aim for new standards of excellence and work to make a positive impact in the scientific world.