The College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin

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Lauren Ehrlich
Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology

Main Office: NMS 2.314
Phone: (512) 475-7125

Alternate Office: NMS 2.324
Alt. Phone: (512) 471-7080

Mailing Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Section of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
2506 Speedway Stop A5000
Austin ,Texas 78712

Lauren Ehrlich

Research Summary

T cells are master regulators of the adaptive immune system: they are essential for coordinating the appropriate immune response to different pathogens, and they are responsible for immunologic memory, which protects us from recurrent infections. As T cells develop in the thymus, they encounter a wide variety of cells in their microenvironment, collectively referred to as the thymic stroma. Thymocytes and stromal cells are mutually dependant on each other for proper development and maintenance. Deviations in normal thymocyte: stromal interactions are thought to contribute to diseases such as T cell lymphoma and autoimmunity. Our lab utilizes live cell 2-photon microscopy to study the dynamic cellular and molecular interactions between thymocytes and stromal cells that promote normal T cell development, resulting in a healthy T cell repertoire. In addition, we seek to identify tumor:stromal interactions that promote T-ALL progression and/or persistence. By using two-photon live-cell imaging, we will query the dynamics of molecular and cellular interactions in tumor development within an intact three-dimensional organ. Since we will compare thymocyte: stromal interactions that occur throughout normal thymocyte development with those that occur during lymphomagenesis, using both imaging and microarray analyses, we will be able to identify aberrant molecular interactions as potential therapeutic targets. By blocking such tumor: stromal interactions, we will strive to inhibit essential events in tumor progression. Ultimately, we hope this work will contribute to the development of lower toxicity therapeutics to significantly improve T-ALL treatment and disease outcome.



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