Rachael Baliira


I graduated from Pennsylvania State University as a Schreyer’s Honors Scholar with a Bachelor of Science in Life Science in 2017. For my honors thesis project, I studied two drivers of carcinogenic microsatellite mutations; sequence composition and DNA mismatch repair function. Thereafter, I matriculated into University of Michigan’s NIH sponsored Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). Under the direction of mentors Dr. David Lombard and Dr. Adam Stein, I investigated the role of SIRT5, an NAD+-dependent Sirtuin, in diseased murine hearts during my PREP year. Currently, I work in Dr. Pierre Coulombe and Dr. Carole Parent labs studying vimentin intermediate filament, its role in neutrophil chemotaxis, migration, signal-relay and overarching contribution to immune infiltration. Outside of lab I enjoy tennis, hikes, and time with friends and family.

Research Interests

Vimentin is a type III intermediate filament that is largely restricted to mesenchymal cell types in the adult setting, including bone marrow-derived blood cell lineages, namely neutrophils. I aim to understand how vimentin contributes to neutrophil differentiation, activation, and chemotaxis.


Fluorescence microscopy, gene editing, flow cytometry, Seahorse XFe96, cell culture, vimentin-specific mouse models, primary (human/mouse) cell isolation, cell culture, immunoblotting


2017 J&J Merritt Outstanding Thesis Award, Pennsylvania State University
2018 Rackham Merit Fellow, University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School


Baliira, R.K., Lombard, D.B., and Stein, A.B. (2017, November). Targeting Mitochondrial Metabolism in Heart Failure. Poster presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), Phoenix, AZ.

Baliira, R.K., Hile, S.H., Eckert, K.A. (2017, March). Population-Specific Microsatellites Reveal Potential Biochemical Pathways to Cancerous Mutations. Poster presentation at the New England Science Symposium, Boston, MA.

Baliira, R.K., Hile, S.H., Eckert, K.A. (2016, November). Microbial Cousin Reveals Biochemical Pathway to Cancerous Microsatellite Mutation. Poster presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), Tampa, FL.

Baliira, R.K., Chorney, M.J. (2016, November). STEM Challenges. Oral presentation at Center for Excellence in Education TEP Bite of Science Seminar, Middletown, PA.