Jeff SoRelle ’10 to conduct research with Nobel Laureate
Although he has only just begun medical school, Jeff SoRelle ’10 is already working with big-name scientists on important research.
SoRelle recently received the Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship, a national research fellowship awarded by Alpha Omega Alpha—“the Phi Beta Kappa of med school,” he says.
The award will allow SoRelle to do summer research at the University of Texas-Southwestern, where he is enrolled, with Dr. Bruce Beutler, the 2011 Nobel Laureate in medicine and physiology. Beutler and SoRelle will look at proteins that play a major role in the body’s primary immune system.
“Dr. Beutler was the recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize for his discovery of the mammalian Toll-tike receptor TLR4 that detects Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in gram negative bacteria and allows the body to respond to infectious bacteria,” SoRelle explains. “This discovery has opened the field of innate immunology.”
The opportunity to do this research came to SoRelle in part because of research he did with the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas from 2010 to 2011, while deferring admission to UT-Southwestern. SoRelle’s research at Baylor studied ways to transplant certain insulin-producing regions of the pancreas in an effort to cure Type 1 diabetes.
“By using a natural drug in a mouse model, we blocked the initial inflammatory events after transplantation, thus effectively improving engraftment,” SoRelle says of the success of his study. “This and one other study are being submitted for publication now.”
Beyond the research itself, SoRelle enjoyed working with a variety of people.
“I worked in a lab with a large group of Japanese post-doctoral students,” he says. “It was a great experience in not only translation research, but also diversity—I was one of only a few Americans there.
“From my past experiences in research, I’ve learned a lot about different cultures—from working with Japanese people at Baylor to working with several Chinese colleagues at UT-Southwestern,” SoRelle continues. “Being one of the only Americans in each lab has made the experience feel somewhat like study abroad.”
Despite being in a lab setting, SoRelle found that having experience writing papers at Centre was beneficial to his work.
“Throughout this year I was very grateful for the emphasis Centre had placed on writing, even in science courses. I ended up editing over a dozen papers for my Japanese colleagues, and also writing two papers and one book chapter,” he says.
SoRelle looks forward to continuing research in this field in the future.
“There is still a lot to learn about the role of inflammation in innate immunity and autoimmunity,” he says. “Receiving this fellowship is a great honor and inspires me to continue working harder to see what else I can achieve.”