Nang Maung, MGM Graduate Student, awarded Travel Grant to attend International Symposium on Pneumococci
December 02, 2009
Nang Maung is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. John Leong (MGM). Recently, Nang's abstract was selected for a Travel Grant to attend the 7th International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel (March 14-18, 2010). Nang’s project, a close collaboration with Dr. Rachel Gerstein (MGM), is to investigate mechanisms of immunity to Streptococcus pneumoniae, the leading cause of community acquired bacterial pneumonia and an emerging co-factor in mortality associated with H1N1 flu. Using mouse models, immunity to systemic infection with S. pneumoniae is well characterized. However, protection from lung infection remains poorly understood. S. pneumoniae is a ubiquitous bacterium that resides, usually harmlessly, in the nasopharynx of many, if not most people. Nang has established a novel system to study dynamic infection with S. pneumoniae and has found that nasopharyngeal infection of mice protects from subsequent lethal lung infection. This protection depends on B lymphocytes, and Nang is investigating the mechanism of immunity generated by nasopharyngeal infection. The long-term goal of these studies is to suggest new approaches for vaccination against S. pneumoniae, as current vaccines have limited efficacy, especially in young children and the elderly.