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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Issel Lim: IBD Research by Melis A. '08

Issel Lim has been trying to create an effective mouse model for ulcerative colitis, a type of IBD, through her UROP in the immunology lab of Dr. David B. Schauer.

About one million Americans have a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which causes inflammation of the digestion tract and leads to painful cramping, chronic diarrhea, and reduced appetite. As if the symptoms weren’t bad enough, IBD increases the risk of developing colon cancer and liver disease.

Unfortunately, the cause of IBD is unknown, though researchers are focusing on hereditary and environmental risk factors. Senior Issel Lim has spent the past year trying to create an effective mouse model for ulcerative colitis, a type of IBD, through her UROP in the immunology lab of Dr. David B. Schauer.

Issel explains, “When combating a pathogen, the body induces an immune response that involves various chemical signals called cytokines.” There are two types of immune responses, Th1 and Th2, which can be induced by different pathogens and are exhibited in certain genetically-deficient mice. Citrobacter rodentium, a bacterial pathogen that is closely related to Escherichia coli and infects the colon of mice, is the first recorded pathogen to elicit at Th1 response. Issel created a mouse model for the Th2 form of IBD by creating a Th2 response in genetically-deficient mice. She then measured the cytokine profiles and analyzed the immune response of each mouse. Now Issel wants to analyze her data further to determine whether the immune response was most significantly affected by the genetics of the mouse or the pathogen.

Issel is majoring in biology and minoring in biomedical engineering and toxicology. She has also been very involved in journalism as chief editor of the MIT Undergraduate Research Journal for the past two years and member of the Journal of Young Investigators, The Tech, and Counterpoint. Issel was also a teaching assistant for 5.22J (biotechnology and engineering), taught for the Educational Studies Program, and was a tutor for 3 years.

Also check out Issel’s recent Biotech Quarterly article!

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