Regulation of AhR gene program - MIMM 397 Undergraduate Research Project Application Form

Supervisor's Name: Joaquin Madrenas

Supervisor's Email: joaquin.madrenas [at]

Supervisor's Phone: 3914

Supervisor's Website:

Supervisor's department: Microbiology and Immunology

Supervisor's department (if none of the above):

Course number: MIMM 397 (Immunology

Term: Fall 2015-2016

Project start date: Friday, September 4, 2015

Project end date: Monday, December 7, 2015

Project title: Regulation of AhR gene program

Project description (50-100 words suggested): Under healthy conditions, our bodies carry trillions of bacteria. These bacteria usually have a positive effect on the development and function of our immune systems. Some of these bacteria are, in fact, superbugs: highly lethal bacteria with broad antibiotic resistance. The question we want to answer is how do bacteria go from living on our bodies without causing disease to becoming lethal microbes. Understanding how this happens may hold the key to new ways of treating infections and inflammatory, immune-mediated diseases like multiple sclerosis and diabetes and preventing transplant rejection. Our team is tackling this question by studying the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This microbe is carried by more than 25 per cent of healthy individuals without causing serious infections. However, under certain circumstances, it can cause severe infections and death, an outcome that carries a high health burden (estimated at US$9 billion/yr in the USA alone). Using advanced technology to map out the expression of genes and proteins in microbes and in immune cells during the different stages of S. aureus and human host interaction, we have identified a gene program known as AhR program that is highly controlled by the microbe through the human immune system. We propose here to delineate the whole gene program and the steps that turn it on and off. In doing so, we will have a target to develop new drugs that modulate inflammation and immune function.

Prerequisite: 1 term completed at McGill + CGPA of 3.0 or higher; or permission of instructor.

Grading scheme (The final report must be worth at least 50% of final grade): 50% lab performance, 50% lab report

Project status: This project is taken. The professor has no more '396' projects this term.

How students can apply / Next steps: After all parts of this application form are completed, and the hard copy is signed by the professor and the student, bring this application form and your unofficial transcript to Prof. Gregory Marczynski during office hours, who will review/approve as the course coordinator for MIMM 396 (Microbiology) or MIMM 397 (Immunology).

Ethics, safety, and training: Supervisors are responsible for the ethics and safety compliance of undergraduate students. This project involves: Human subjects; Biohazardous substances; Handling chemicals.