Headshot portrait of Laura Amaya Hernandez - Bio-X Bowes Fellow
Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2020
Home Department: Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine
Faculty Advisors: Howard Chang (Dermatology and Genetics) and Bali Pulendran (Pathology and Microbiology & Immunology)

Research Title: In vitro Transcription of Circular RNAs with Dual Antigen/Adjuvant Capacity for Vaccine Development

Research Description:  Laura’s project combines genetic engineering and immunology to address the challenges surrounding vaccine reactogenicity and achieving sufficient potency and efficacy. She will design a novel immunization strategy with circular RNAs (circRNAs) as both the immunogen and antigen. Taking advantage of the intrinsic capacity of ‘foreign’ circRNAs to activate memory responses in vivo, Laura will engineer circRNAs that also translate proteins, to regenerate cellular immunity against targeted antigens. Laura will validate this work with immunization studies to test the potency and durability of circRNA-based vaccines in the hopes of improving them for future use.