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Being the son and grandson of physicians, I have been around medicine my entire life. Seeing the power of scientific discovery first hand drove me to pursue a career in science. As an undergraduate I considered medicine and took various anatomy and physiology courses. I also entertained thoughts of physical or occupational therapy school and took human nutrition and advanced physiology. Additionally, as a general biology student you are exposed to all areas of biological and physical sciences and it soon became clear to me that although I wanted to pursue a higher education in science, I was not sure which specific field I wanted to study. That in mind, I decided to work on a master’s degree where I would hopefully determine in which field to pursue my PhD. I was offered an incredible opportunity to work with one of the world’s foremost microbial ecologists, Dr. Vladislav Gulis, on a fully NSF-funded 2 year RA. Although I had never really considering ecology as a career, I would be working with numerous scientists from different fields of biology as well as at different universities across the country. My second year I was awarded a $40,000 NSF GK-12 Fellowship which allowed me to incorporate my research findings into the education of others at local area high schools.
While performing my Masters research however, it became clear that I wanted to adjust the focus of my career back towards medicine and the immune system, specifically towards T cells and the development of the immune repertoire. While researching PIs across the country in search of a graduate program that would be conducive to the newly narrowed focus of my career I came across the work of my then would-be advisor, Dr. Joseph Blattman. Joe was one of the first to estimate the number of antigen-specific T cells found in the immune repertoire. During my interview for the PhD program at ASU I spoke with Dr. Blattman and our mutual focus and intrigue in formation of immune repertoires found us immediately planning projects as if I were already a student in his lab. One of the final factors that led me to ASU was the highly collaborative nature of the Biodesign Institute, the facility where I would be working. Each of the 3 floors is built into centers focusing on different aspects of science, however, the centers are highly encouraged to collaborate with one another and work on grants that bring differing expertise together. During my tenure at ASU I have worked with the one of the foremost DNA nano-biologists in the world, two Regents professors in biophysics and biochemistry, and numerous clinical biologists and mathematicians. Working with such a diverse community of researchers enforces constant discovery and never ending learning, both of which are paramount for the relatively young science of Immunology.
I have had an extremely successful career thus far and have a number of accomplishments of which I am especially proud. Additional to the preciously mentioned NSF Fellowship, I am a three-time Roche/ARCS Fellowship recipient. Additionally, I have received 9 other funded grants/awards including a full year of funding from the Careers in Immunology Fellowship awarded by the American Association of Immunologists. I have published 2 scientific articles and co-wrote and published an entire Immunology laboratory textbook currently used by ASU's MIC 421 Immunology Laboratory course. I have been invited to and presented at 10 national conferences, including 2 industry (Roche/Illumina) symposia that requested my attendance directly. I was awarded a US patent for the novel methodology of my research and have since signed a non-exclusive license with GigaGen Inc. and recently submitted a second provisional patent based on technology I have developed since.
I believe one of my greatest strengths is my teaching ability. I have been the lead TA for 8 Immunology courses and I have mentored 3 undergraduate students, all of which are either in medical or graduate school. Additionally, I am a certified MCAT Biology, Biochemistry, General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry instructor/tutor for The Princeton Review.
Following graduation I will be running the production laboratory for a spin-out company based on my research.
Microbiology Ph.D. Candidate, School of Life Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ Thesis: Quantitating the Functional TCRab Repertoire Using DNA Origami Nanostructures. (3.71) (In progress)
Advisor: Dr. Joseph Blattman
Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies, Dept. of Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies, Coastal Carolina University, Conway, SC. Thesis: The Effects of Dissolved Inorganic Nutrient Concentrations and Ratios on Microbial Stoichiometry. (3.88) (M.S. Pending defense)
Advisor: Dr. Vladislav Gulis
B.S. Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH. 2009 (3.63)
T cells are important for the control of many infectious diseases. In order to recognize and combat a diverse array of invading pathogens, T cells express a large repertoire of clonotypic ab dimeric T cell receptors (TCRs), with few cells on average expressing TCR specific for any given antigen but an enormous number of specificities at the population level within an individual. Quantitatively defining this balance between diversity and protection has been problematic, in large part due to the lack of methods for quantitating total TCR diversity; despite the quantitation of sequence diversity independently for TCRa and TCRb chains in the na�ve T cell repertoire for both humans and mice, a systematic accurate measurement of TCR combinatorial diversity, due to pairing of different TCR a and b chains, has not been attempted. The brute force method of sequencing both TCR chains at the single cell level is financially unfeasible for large na�ve T cell populations; each sequencing reaction costs ~$2 so for a single na�ve mouse with ~10000000 total T cells this would be a $20,000,000 experiment. Molecular strategies for linking TCRa and TCRb mRNA have not been adequately developed to generate suitable input material for standard multiplex deep sequencing of TCR sequences that would provide information on both TCR chains from a single cell. One major limitation to such approaches is that hybrid structures, generated by transfection with oligonucleotides, results in activation of nucleases that destroy the template and therefore, preclude TCR sequence analysis. In order to address these issues, we have developed novel DNA origami nanostructures (in collaboration with Dr. Hao Yan, a leading pioneer in the field of DNA origami) that can be transfected into T cells to ligate and protect both TCRa and TCRb mRNA, and after re-isolation, can be used as a template for ligation of a dual-primed reverse transcription reaction, and following with PCR amplification will provide input material for deep sequencing to obtain linked sequence information for both TCR chains from individual cells within polyclonal T cell populations, and thereby provide a first estimate of total TCR diversity. Using the developed DNA origami nanostructures to quantitatively define TCR diversity in individuals undergoing immune reconstitution after lymphodepletion prior to and after challenge with viral pathogens, we will be able to begin to understand the balance between immune diversity and protection.
1.Schoettle, Louis N, M.E. Poindexter, and J.N Blattman. (2015). T-Cell Receptors. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000915.pub2
2.Blattman, J.N., M.S. McAfee, L.N. Schoettle. (2014). Experimental Immunology. Cognella Academic Publishing. Print.
3.Zarnitsyna V, B. Evavold, L. Schoettle, J. Blattman and R. Antia. (2013). Estimating the diversity, completeness, and cross-reactivity of the T cell repertoire. Front. Immunol. 4:485.
• J. Blattman. H. Yan, L. Schoettle & X. Wei. May 5, 2016. U.S. Patent #20160122752. Methods for Obtaining Information from Single Cells within Populations Using DNA Origami Nanostructures Without the Need for Single Cell Sorting.
• J. Blattman & L. Schoettle. U.S. Provisional Patent #62/377123. High Throughput Oil-Emulsion Synthesis of Bowtie Barcodes for Paired mRNA Capture and Sequencing from Individual Cells.