Laura St ClairGraduate Assistant Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology
Cvidlaura.email@example.com (970) 491-4881
Laura's research is focused on understanding the role that sphingolipids play in the lifecycle of dengue viruses in both the human host and mosquito vector (Aedes aegypti). Previously, the Perera lab has shown that in both humans and mosquitoes sphingolipid metabolism is significantly altered during infection. In humans, sphingolipids have been identified as pivotal signaling molecules involved in nearly all aspects of cellular biology (e.g. cell cycle, senescence, antiviral and immune signaling, autophagy, differentiation, etc.). As perturbations of these lipids has been linked to many other diseases, the Lab is interested in understanding how these molecules are altered during DENV infection, their role in the DENV lifecycle, and how their alteration contributes to viral pathogenesis. In the mosquito, very little is known about the roles of sphingolipids in viral replication, dissemination, and transmission or whether these roles are similar to those during viral infection of humans. By investigating these changes to sphingolipid metabolism in both the human and mosquito host, the Lab is hoping to identify novel viral intervention strategies that exploit sphingolipid metabolism in both hosts. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Perera lab has increased their antiviral drug testing capacity to screen antiviral compounds against SARS-CoV-2. Laura's contribution towards these projects entails qRT-PCR assay development, processing, and data analysis of samples from human cells treated with potential antiviral candidates. Outside of her research, Laura is very passionate about mentoring and teaching, and devotes a lot of her spare time to her mentees or in furthering her mentorship training by taking online courses. To unwind, she can usually be found doing one of three things: singing or attending concerts, creative writing (poetry), or teaching her dog ridiculous tricks.