We chat with MD/PhD candidate, Maryam Vaseghi-Shanjani (Class of 2026), who is studying single-gene defects related to primary immunodeficiencies.
Tell us about your research interests
I became interested in immunology after taking courses in undergrad. My fascination led me to complete my undergrad thesis in a vaccine lab studying macrophages in TB infection. Continuing in the same lab for my master’s, I characterized memory macrophages in the airways following BCG vaccination. What I love about immunology is that it is a very broad and evolving field and it can be studied in various contexts such as infectious diseases, cancer, autoimmunity, and transplantation.
What does a typical day look like while working on your project?
Due to Covid-19, I unfortunately have not been able to start wet lab work, but currently a typical day for me involves searching for relevant literature, reading articles and making summary notes from them. When I go back to the lab, I will be using molecular biology and immunological techniques such as western blots, flow cytometry, ELISA, and cell culture to study my project aims.
What advice would you give other students interested in getting more involved with research?
I would encourage them to not limit themselves to only using immunological techniques. Immunology itself is very interdisciplinary and often you need to borrow techniques from other fields such as molecular biology, metabolomics, and bioinformatics. It might seem intimidating at the beginning to learn completely new techniques, but you don’t always have to do it on your own and you can ask to collaborate with other research groups.
What are your research and career aspirations?
My short-term goals are to expand my research skill set by learning as many new techniques as possible. Meanwhile, I hope to improve my scientific writing and expand my knowledge of the field by preparing a review paper in the next few months. My long-term goals are to become a clinician-scientist, doing translational research that will hopefully benefit not only my patients, but also those around the world.