Justin Moroney, fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Paolo Casali’s lab in the Molecular Immunology & Microbiology discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program at UT Health San Antonio has published a first author article in Nature Communications.
His research focuses on the transcriptional and epigenetic identity of human memory B cells.
“Memory B cells are critical elements of your adaptive immune system and provide long-lived protection against viral and bacterial pathogens in a highly specific manner,” he explained. “So, when people tell you to get your vaccines, memory B cells are the reason they work.”
In the lab, Moroney applies next-generation sequencing to human memory B cells to unbiasedly characterize the level of coding and non-coding transcripts, as well as chromatin accessibility, in these cells.
“Through interrogation of these datasets, we’ve uncovered several mechanisms at play that integrate to influence the functionality of memory B cells,” he said. “I’m not only passionate about this research with respect its implications to human health, but also through the platform it has provided to learn and grow me different scientific and analytical skills.”
In addition to his work as a student, he serves as the program director of EnventureSA where he leads the consulting club program and interns at UT Health San Antonio’s Office of Technology Commercialization.
Moroney will be defending his dissertation on Oct. 29.