NIH Training Grant Fellow: Christine Schneider

Christine Schneider          

Christine earned her B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Oregon State University in 2011. During her undergraduate studies, she worked as a research assistant at SIGA technologies, an antiviral discovery company in Corvallis, Oregon, where she helped determine the mechanism of action of two drugs targeting Dengue virus. After graduation, she spent two and a half years working at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI). At LRRI, Christine worked on numerous projects characterizing the immune response to infectious agents (including BSL-2 and BSL-3 agents), chemicals, and radiation.

Having worked with both pathogen biology and the host immune response, Christine joined Melissa Lodoen’s lab at UCI to pursue her Ph.D. The Lodoen lab studies the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii and how it interacts with the mouse and human immune system.

Toxoplasma gondii is an eukaryotic parasite with worldwide distribution and is estimated to infect one third of the global population. As a food borne pathogen, the initial site of T. gondii infection is the intestine, after which the parasite enters the circulation and rapidly disseminates to a variety of organs in the body, with a preference for the central nervous system and skeletal muscle. In individuals with a normal immune system, the parasite transitions into dormancy, forming tissue cysts that persist for the lifetime of the host. However, if the host becomes immune suppressed—due to factors like AIDS, a solid organ transplant, or high-dose chemotherapy—parasites begin replicating again, causing substantial nervous system damage and symptoms like seizure, stroke, and even death. Numerous groups have highlighted the importance of T cells and continuous production of IFN-ϒ as key factors to maintaining immune control. More recent evidence suggests myeloid cells in the CNS are also important for controlling the chronic infection, although the precise role of these cells in immune defense is not well understood. Therefore, Christine has been studying the trafficking to and function of myeloid cells during chronic infection in the brain, contrasting that with the role they play in acute infection. In addition, she is also investigating the role of myeloid cells during chronic reactivation, a stage for which we have far less information.  Christine’s work may help us better understand which aspects of the immune system can be modified to reduce or prevent parasite damage for individuals most at risk for reactivation.

Publications:

Byrd CM, Dai D, Grosenbach DW, Berhanu A, Jones KF, Cardwell KB, Schneider C, Wineinger KA, Page JM, Harver C, Stavale E, Tyavanagimatt S, Stone MA, Bartenschlager R, Scaturro P, Hruby DE, Jordan R. (2013). "A novel inhibitor of dengue virus replication that targets the capsid protein." Antimicrob Agents Chemother 57(1): 15-25.

Byrd CM, Grosenbach DW, Berhanu A, Dai D, Jones KF, Cardwell KB, Schneider C, Yang G, Tyavanagimatt S, Harver C, Wineinger KA, Page J, Stavale E, Stone MA, Fuller KP, Lovejoy C, Leeds JM, Hruby DE, Jordan R. (2013). "Novel benzoxazole inhibitor of dengue virus replication that targets the NS3 helicase." Antimicrob Agents Chemother 57(4): 1902-1912

Alana F. Ogata, Joshua M. Edgar, Sudipta Majumdar, Jeffrey S. Briggs, Shae V. Patterson, Ming X. Tan, Stephan T. Kudlacek, Christine A. Schneider, Gregory A. Weiss, and Reginald M. Penner (2017). “Virus-enabled biosensor for human albumin.” Analytical Chemistry 89(2): 1373-1381.

Honors and Awards:

2016    NIH NIAID T32 Immunology Research Training Program (2T32 AI 60573-11), UC Irvine

2014    Francisco J. Ayala Fellowship, UC, Irvine

2009    Janet Richens Wiesner University Honors Scholarship for undergraduate women in science. Oregon State University, scholarship received by nomination for outstanding scientific potential

2009    Waldo Cummings Outstanding Student Award, Oregon State University, awarded for distinguished service and scholarship among sophomore students

2008    Waldo Cummings Outstanding Student Award, Oregon State University, honorable mention amongst freshman students