The focus of Lauren’s project this past summer was to determine whether the complement component C3d could be used as a molecular adjuvant to enhance the efficacy of vaccines.  In order to establish whether C3d could be used as an adjuvant, Lauren and her team focused on determining whether C3d epitopes that are complexed with class II MHC could be recognized by C3d-specific helper T cells. They hypothesized that these auto-reactive T-cells help to enhance the B-cell response to the presence of antigens.  C3d could thus be used in vaccines to create an enhanced immune response, making the vaccine more powerful and more effective.

The project allowed Lauren to learn and execute a new procedure, the competition binding assay.  It gave her further experience in the lab, as well as more experience in conducting research.  By combining laboratory techniques with a careful review of published literature, Lauren learned how a research project is crafted, conducted, and written up.  She says the process will serve her well as she continues with her work at EpiVax and beyond.  Lauren hopes to spend the next two years working at EpiVax, after which she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in epidemiology and global health.  Lauren feels her passion for issues relating to infectious diseases, global access to healthcare, and public health interventions will remain constant.  She hopes to combine these passions into a career in the field of public health.