July 13, 2020

Pharmacology Postdoc Spotlight

Sree Sengupta, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Parent Lab
Hometown: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Undergraduate & MS: Microbiology, University of Calcutta


Tell us about yourself:  

I was born in Kolkata, the capitol of West Bengal, which is a state in eastern India. I did my undergraduate and masters in Microbiology from the University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India. During my master’s program, I fell in love with the Immunology textbook by Janis Kuby and decided to make immunology as my area of specialization. I came to the USA in 2011 chasing the dream to build my career in Science. I obtained my PhD from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. During my PhD, I got the opportunity to work on primary human neutrophils, which are the first responders of our body’s defense system to infection or injury. In my thesis work, I explored how neutrophil responses are modulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a cell wall component of bacteria that our body gets exposed to during infection. In 2017 September, I joined the lab of Dr. Carole Parent as a postdoc.  In the Parent lab, my research is primarily focused on understanding the mechanisms that regulate neutrophil migration to tumor and the tumor-associated functions of the recruited neutrophils.

How would you describe your discipline if you were at a social gathering?

My study explores the role of neutrophils in tumor spread or metastasis, which is the major cause of cancer-related death. We absolutely depend on neutrophils to fight off many infections and inflammation. But their impact on cancer has just started catching attention. I hope to keep that momentum going with my research work and provide better understanding for immunotherapeutic advances against cancer metastasis.

What do you wish your colleagues/friends/family knew about your work?

My work in science reveals part of the beautiful intricate ways our immune system works to protect us and how it gets exploited in diseases like cancer. I want them to know that doing bench science, looking closely at what goes on in the cellular level is what sows the seeds of therapeutic intervention.

What is your biggest challenge?

Science itself is challenging and I enjoy being challenged every day.

Have you learned anything during your research that's surprised you?  If so, what?

In general, by getting involved into research, I have learned how to become more patient which is directly associated to my well-being. 

My research work mostly focuses on neutrophils, which belong to the non-specific branch of the immunity system. Neutrophils get activated very fast and is directed to battle against infection. But in some cases, these cells can lead to damage of our own tissue due to the same non-specific nature of neutrophil-derived chemicals. Scientifically, I was surprised to find, during my PhD, that these neutrophils are capable of discriminating a common bacterial component (LPS) based on fine structural variations and responding differently. This finding was useful in understanding constant bacterial presence in the lung of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients.

What drives you?

My thirst for asking right questions and to be able to conduct experiments independently to get answers. At the end, the entire journey seems very satisfying.

What do you plan to do after your postdoc?

With my PhD and postdoctoral experience, I would like to see myself to become an independent investigator and mentor for future scientists.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud to have a family that has been a constant enthusiastic supporter of what I do.

What is a fun or interesting fact about you?

I am a big fan of horror movies.