T-cells: Tussling with cancer
Michael Cosiano is one of several undergraduates working in Dr. Brian Baker's lab. The Baker lab focuses on the biophysics and structural biology of T- cell communication, and Michael is making important contributions to this work. Immunology is an incredibly important field linked to cancer research, and by furthering our understanding of the immune system he is helping better understand cancer.
A senior, majoring in science pre-professional studies, Michael has had ample time to perfect the laboratory skills and work ethic needed to be a successful researcher. Michael has focused on a variety of projects during his time in the Baker lab. Currently, he is working with two different T-cells, mutating them to test their affinities (how strongly they bind) to certain antigens. Additionally, Michael is crystallizing a T-cell variant so a structure can be solved. His work is important because he is testing different T-cells that have not been investigated yet in the lab. In order to engage in this complex research, he uses a variety of sophisticated technology to achieve results. Column machines separate specific proteins, and the Biacore detects the strength of T-cell and antigen interaction. Ultimately, "the goal is to design T-cell variants that will attack diseases and cancer better," Michael says.
Michael's ultimate goal is to leave a positive impact on the lab. By improving to the understanding of T-cell that is critical to immunology he hopes to make lasting contributions that will be essential long after he graduates. By engaging in both challenging and rewarding research, Michael has become a more critical problem solver and an independent learner. It is important to learn how to collaborate within a team as well as have ownership over a certain aspect of a project, and Michael has been able to engage in both aspects while working in the Baker lab. Michael's research experience has been one of his favorite aspects of attending the University of Notre Dame and he is excited to see how the field of immunology will change in the future.