Elena LianMicrobiology, Immunology, and Pathology
Elena's research in the Perera lab concerns the host-pathogen interactions that occur between humans and dengue viruses (DENVs) – more specifically, the function of linoleic acid metabolism during DENV serotype 2 (DENV2) infection. DENVs induce extensive rearrangements and expansion of the endoplasmic reticulum membrane to construct replication complexes, and the membrane composition can alter its fluidity as well as the assembly and function of those complexes. Many of the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the linoleic acid metabolic pathway are components of membrane phospholipids, making this pathway relevant to DENVs. However, the precursor of many pro- and anti-inflammatory eicosanoids, arachidonic acid, is also synthesized in this pathway. Studying linoleic acid metabolism may thus provide insight on the role of polyunsaturated fatty acids during infection as well as the intersection of lipid metabolism and the host immune response during DENV2 infection. As a response to the pandemic, the Perera lab has expanded its efforts towards testing compounds with antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. Elena's contribution towards the antiviral testing include helping set up the BSL-3 Respiratory Wing to conduct these studies, antiviral assay development and optimization, experimental design, conducting the experiments, data analysis and reporting. Outside of lab, Elena enjoys her downtime. When she is not playing video games, catching up on shows and documentaries recommended by her friends, or even getting a glimpse at different disciplines (e.g. watching foley artists work their magic), she am relaxing to the fullest extent.