GradImpact: Developing Novel Vaccines and Treatments against HIV and other Viruses

    Yi Wen, a doctoral student in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology at Cornell University, received the 2018 Harry and Samuel Mann Outstanding Graduate Student Award for her research that aims to help develop novel vaccines and treatments against HIV and other viruses. A virus can only replicate inside living cells and can infect all life forms. There are millions of different viruses, and viral cells reproduce by using the host cells to create copies. This process can make some viruses especially difficult to kill.

     

    Wen studies virology, exploring membrane biophysics and lipid chemistry to try and find a way to keep the host cells from releasing the viral copies back into the host’s body. Wen’s research focuses on the lipid “PIP2.” Lipids make up the cell membrane, which is akin to its skin. PIP2 is a pretty minor part of cell membranes, but according to Wen, “it plays a major role in cell function and also in HIV infection.” Wen discovered that PIP2 is extremely sensitive to some metal ions.

     

    “The metal ions shield PIP2, and only specific proteins are likely to be able to compete against those metal ions to have access to PIP2,” Wen said. “HIV appears to require those PIP2 clusters as assembly and release sites of new viruses. I think this could be HIV’s Achilles’ heel.” To learn more about Yi’s work visit the Cornell University website.

     

    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.

     

     

    Photo Credit: Matt Hayes/CALS, Cornell University

    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.

     

    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.