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PROVIDES Scholar in Vitamin A

Sergio Cepeda, Ph.D.


Mentor: Lora Hooper , Ph.D.
City Born In: Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, Mexico
City Grew Up In: McAllen, TX

Sergio Cepeda, Ph.D.
How did you become interested in science and/or research specifically?

My path to becoming a researcher started out through sheer luck. During my undergraduate degree, I ran into a flyer for a paid research program in the biology department. At that point in time, I saw it as an opportunity to get a paycheck while doing something interesting. However, I quickly fell in love with lab work and the process of formulating and testing hypotheses. It didn’t take long before I decide to pursue a career in research and took the necessary steps required to obtain a career in research.

In four sentences or fewer, tell us about your research project and its relevance to human health or impact on scientific discovery. Remember that you are trying to convince prospective postdocs that the research at UTSW is innovative and relevant.

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient acquired from our diet that is needed for proper development of multiple host tissues. In the intestine, vitamin A promotes proper localization and function of multiple immune cells; however, our understanding of how vitamin A is delivered to and shapes the extraintestinal immune system, which is critical for host defense of extraintestinal pathogens, remains limited. Using genetic and dietary models, my research examines how vitamin A is delivered to immune cells in various tissues outside the intestine, and how it shapes the immune response in steady state and during infections. These findings will allow us to subsequently identify interventions to improve outcomes to diseases and/or vaccinations.

Have you received any awards or fellowships during your graduate or postdoc training? Please specify the stage of career and the type of recognition?

Postdoctoral Fellowships:
UT Southwestern PROVIDES Fellow
Ph.D. Fellowships: RO1 administrative supplement (2016) HHMI Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Studies (2018)
Ph.D. Awards: Trainee poster award – American Association of Immunologists (2017) Ph.D. Student of the year (2018) Trainee poster award – American Association of Immunologists (2018) Senior Student of the Year (2018) Minority Scientist Travel award – American Association of Immunologists (2019) Trainee Podium Award – American Association of Immunologists (2020)

Why did you choose to come to UT Southwestern for your postdoc training?

I chose UTSW for my training due to the excellent resources available to researchers, the diverse fields of study, and the outstanding caliber of the institution and researchers. Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised during my interview to see a diverse and welcoming community.

What do you appreciate about your training here or why should a prospective postdoc choose to do their postdoc training here?

In my short time at UTSW, I have greatly appreciated the collaborative nature of the institution. Research has become increasingly complex, requiring input from multiple areas of expertise, and the researchers and cores have facilitated this greatly. This institution provides you with all the resources needed to perform excellent, novel, and relevant biomedical research.

– Sergio Cepeda, Ph.D., PROVIDES Scholar

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