Bio-X SIGF Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2017
Home Department: Microbiology & Immunology
Faculty Advisors: John Boothroyd (Microbiology & Immunology) and Polly Fordyce (Genetics, Bioengineering)

Research Title: Determining functions of a family of surface proteins in the ubiquitous pathogen Toxoplasma gondii

Research Description: Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular eukaryotic pathogen known to infect almost any cell of warm-blooded animals and cause fatal disease in immunocompromised hosts. Photo of graduate student Terence Theisen in the lab, operating a large microscope system.The parasite factors that support Toxoplasma’s unparalleled host range are not known, and Terence hypothesizes that part of the answer lies in a >150-member family of paralogous surface proteins. To identify how these proteins are involved in parasite attachment, Terence will engineer microfluidic devices to quantify the attachment strength of mutants lacking these proteins to cells from different host species. This project will explore what determines the unique host range of Toxoplasma while realizing a new application of microfluidics applicable to the study of infectious agents.


Terence is “pursuing being their best self” and also a scientist at Nanostring Technologies in Seattle, WA.