During my training, I have gained substantial expertise in molecular biology techniques and animal models to study the immune response to pathogenic infection. I have also augmented these skills with in silico analytical techniques such as transcriptional profiling and computational modeling. While many commercially available programs exist for the functional analysis of mammalian transcriptional profiles, analysis of this kind is not readily available for insect models. To this end, I developed a Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) tool for Drosophila datasets, allowing me to functionally characterize how functional categories of genes were being regulated upon infection.
As part of my grant from the NIAID, I propose to use next-generation sequencing (NGS) as a tool to identify sequences of pathogen-associated nucleic acids that bind to STING during infection. Additionally, NGS can be used in the fruit-fly model as a screening tool to identify novel non-coding RNAs that are essential for the induction of a robust immune response. The use of a tractable, orthogonal animal model may lead to the discovery of conserved sequences in human with similar functions.