Sherri Smith is chalking up successes. This 2009 Biological Sciences doctoral candidate successfully defended her dissertation on September 22, then left just days later to assume a prestigious postdoctoral appointment at the famed Louis Pasteur Institute in Paris.
During her studies at Notre Dame, Smith, who received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, was a member of Prof. Kristin Hager’s lab. Hager and her students study the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii, an organism that preys on the defenseless members of our society—for example, AIDS patients, patients receiving immune-suppressing drugs to prevent rejection of an organ after it is transplanted, and even fetuses and newborns. The Hager lab’s particular focus is T.gondii’s specialized invasion proteins, specifically, how it might be possible to block their packaging and delivery and thereby block infection.
In Paris, Smith is working under the direction of Dr. Nancy Guillén-Aghion, head of the Pasteur Institute’s unit of cellular biology of parasitism. Her lab studies Entamoeba histolytica and factors that may contribute to its virulent disease pathogenesis.
The Pasteur Institute, founded by Louis Pasteur in 1887, is one of the leading private non-profit centers for infectious disease research. Some 2,500 people from more than 70 countries work in its 130 research labs.