Ileana Pedraza was one of the many students who participated at the UT Health San Antonio Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Commencement ceremony last month.
Pedraza graduated with a Master of Science degree in Immunology and Infection, a two-year program focused on preparing students interested in a career that will require an elevated level of expertise and experience in evaluating and understanding immune defenses against infectious microbial pathogens.
Since she was a student in high school, Pedraza has been interested in health sciences. This interest was a result of her participation in her school’s chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA).
“HOSA allowed me to challenge myself and really explore different opportunities like emergency medicine, research and public health,” she said.
After high school, she attended UT Austin where she majored in microbiology. While as a student, she was involved with the Hispanic Health Profession Organization and volunteered at a hospital where she assisted with patients.
While researching graduate schools, she found out about the Master of Science in Immunology and Infection program at UT Health San Antonio.
“I liked how the program gave me the chance to do research, it was something I didn’t focus on while I was at UT Austin so I really wanted to get that hands-on experience in research,” she said.
As a graduate student, she worked in the lab of Dr. T.R. Kannan whose lab studies Mycoplasma pathogenesis. Her research was focused on antibodies against a new virulence determinant of Mycoplasma pneumoniae known as the CARDS toxin.
“This work helps provide the foundation for potential therapeutic and vaccine development to combat Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection,” Pedraza said.
Recently, Pedraza presented her work involving the characterization of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies against CARDS toxin and placed third at the Texas American Society for Microbiology Branch Spring Meeting.
“I like doing research because it is interesting to see how research can translate to the medical field,” she said.
Pedraza plans to continue her education by applying to graduate school and medical school.
This article was written by Charlotte Anthony, marketing specialist at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UT Health San Antonio.