About Ashley Divens
I am currently a PhD student in the Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis program at West Virginia University, completing research in Dr. Cory Robinson’s lab. My interest in this field began at the University of Pittsburgh where I researched bacteriophages and their ability to infect clinical isolates of Mycobacterium abscessus. Now, my research involves studying the role of IL-27 in the neonatal immune response to BCG vaccination, the vaccine that protects against the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The BCG vaccine is administered to infants across the world, but is not very effective in preventing pulmonary tuberculosis. This is further complicated by the fact that neonates typically do not develop strong immune responses to vaccines and have high levels of the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-27. Therefore, we are hypothesizing that IL-27 opposes protective immune responses induced by the BCG vaccine. More specifically, we plan to study the effect of IL-27 on autophagy and the development of a central memory T cell response.
Outside of research, I am a recipient of the STEM fellowship and I enjoy embroidery, crocheting, and playing with my cat.