Elena hails from the suburbs of Chicago, but travelled down south to New Orleans to get her B.S. in Biochemistry from Tulane University. While she enjoyed her time there, she is relieved to exchange the fiery climate for Michigan's more temperate summers. During her time at Tulane, she worked in a pancreatic endocrinology lab studying type I diabetes. In 2019, she joined the Immunology Graduate Program and works in Dr. Scott Soleimanpour's lab. Elena is planning on completing the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Certificate program.
Our lab has identified Clec16a as a type 1 diabetes (T1D) susceptibility gene and found that its beta cell- specific knockout leads to glucose intolerance due to impaired mitochondrial quality control. Clec16a is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that regulates mitophagy, which promotes and maintains mitochondrial quality control necessary for normal beta cell function. Since type 1 diabetes (T1D) is characterized by beta cell destruction via circulating autoreactive T-cell clones, I will be studying the role of Clec16a in regulatory T-cell function, which play an essential role in preventing the circulation of these autoreactive clones and T1D progression. I will study the function of Clec16a KO in Tregs and determine how the predicted impairment of immunometabolism correlates with suppression of autoreactive clones.
Flow cytometry, cell culture, qPCR, western blot
Phi Beta Kappa 2018
Tulane University Dean's List 2014-2018
Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities
Outside of the lab, Elena enjoys reading, cooking, petting every dog she sees, and coming up with mediocre puns.