[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Having worked in both Microbiology and Systems Biology laboratories before, I knew that addressing the complexity of how the immune system behaves in health and disease would require a combined approach. The NIH-Oxcam Program was perfectly designed for that. It is giving me the chance to work with some of the best systems biologist and microbiologist in the field of innate immunity and is already enabling me to utilize both of these resources to take on questions that a single approach itself would not be able to.
Sam received his high school equivalency degree while working in animal husbandry at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York. After shadowing some of the scientist at the facility, Sam enrolled at Stony Brook University to study Biochemistry and Theatre. Sam later received a fellowship to work with Dr. Bethany Moore at the University of Michigan Department of Immunology. Sam’s project was aimed at understanding why following bone marrow transplantation some patients are more susceptible to lung infection then others. In a paper published in the Journal of Immunology, Sam and his colleagues showed that the difference is related to how alveolar macrophages, key cells in the immune system, present differential recognition receptors following the process of bone marrow transplantation. After his graduation with honors from Stony Brook University in 2013, Sam won a prestigious Fulbright Research Scholarship to work with Dr. Baris Tursun at the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology in Berlin, Germany, where he studied “Direct Reprogramming,” a novel approach to looking at ways to convert a specific mature adult cell into a mature cell of a different type without making the cell behave like a stem cell first. In 2015 he began his graduate work with the NIH-Oxcam program.
For his thesis work, Sam is coordinating a collaboration between the Laboratory of Systems Biology at the NIH and an Immunology and Single Cell Imaging group at the University of Cambridge to study on, both, a genome-wide and single cell level the TLR4 pathway, a critical pathway in the immune system’s first line of defense and a trigger for the onset of inflammation. These studies aim to elucidate the intricacy and architecture of this clinically critical pathway and to also serve as a model for how complex biological networks can be studied and understood on, both, a systemic and molecular level.
Beyond his doctoral work Sam plans to continue to pursue a better understanding of the complex workings of the immune system and its behavior. He hopes to continue to rely on collaborative and synergistic approaches to address these questions in the manner similar to which his current graduate work through the NIH-Oxcam program makes possible.