Katie Malone ’19 studies immunology, microbiology at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital

Biochemistry and molecular biology major Katie Malone ’19 (Georgetown, Kentucky) is spending her summer at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, in the college of medicine, interning in the immunology, microbiology and molecular genetics lab.

Returning for the second summer in a row to work with Dr. Yasuhiro Suzuki, along with two of his current lab workers, Malone is testing what recombinant proteins can activate innate immune cells in the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

“Overall, we are looking for a way to remove toxoplasma cysts from a patient’s brain,” she said. “I’m working on a lot of cell culture creation right now, as well.”

Malone explained how meaningful it is to have this opportunity again this summer.

“All I wanted was the experience so I could determine if I really wanted to work in a lab for the rest of my life and feel like I was doing something productive and helpful,” she continued. “When Dr. Suzuki invited me to come back, I, of course, said yes.”

Over the last few years, a number of Malone’s biochemistry and molecular biology classes have helped enhance her understanding of what she’s been putting into practice. Through this internship, she would like to become more confident in her lab skills.

“I’m hoping that I am able to find decent evidence of innate immune cell activation in Toxoplasma gondii,” she said. “If I do, there’s a high chance I could get published officially in a real science journal, which is kind of my dream at this moment.”

As Malone prepares to start her senior year at Centre, she’s also getting ahead of the game and applying for graduate programs that are related to this specific area of study.

“This internship has only solidified my love of immunology and microbiology,” she concluded. “It continues to push me to my limits every day. I’m learning skills that are going to help me in the long run.”

by Kerry Steinhofer
June 21, 2018