Student Profile in Virus-host Interactions
How did you become interested in science and/or research?
I have been fascinated by infectious diseases since I was a young kid. I always found it intriguing that something so tiny can cause terrible disease and death. My interest in infectious diseases grew during high school when I read several books about virus outbreaks, which also sparked an interest in laboratory research. In college at Louisiana Tech University, I took the first opportunity to participate in microbiology research and immediately knew I wanted to pursue research after finishing my undergraduate degree. My specific interest in virology and innate immunity was solidified after participating in the SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) program at UT Southwestern during the summers of my undergraduate education.
Please describe your research.
Interferon is a cytokine that is secreted as part of the immune response to a viral infection. Interferon exhibits antiviral properties by “turning on” hundreds of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), many of which perform functions to inhibit viral infection of cells. My research seeks to uncover fundamental biology about how these antiviral ISGs inhibit viruses of public health relevance and how antiviral ISGs have evolved in mammals. Research on antiviral ISGs may provide information that can be used to inform therapeutics that treat viral disease.
Why did you choose to come to UTSW for graduate school?
UT Southwestern was the best combination of great faculty, high-quality research, great publication record by students, and diverse research topics for me. The ability to quickly finish classes with no requirement to serve as a teaching assistant was a huge bonus as well.
What do you think makes the Molecular Microbiology Program is one of the top in the country?
The Molecular Microbiology program faculty are experts in so many areas of science that you can get many unique perspectives and approaches to any scientific question. This results in a well-rounded program with exposure to so many aspects of microbiology and biomedical sciences during your graduate training.
What do you love about the Molecular Microbiology Program?
At UT Southwestern you feel much more like a work colleague than a student. This leads to a collaborative and comfortable environment that is inviting rather than intimidating.
– Matthew McDougal