Congratulations to Hung-An (Anna) Ting, PhD for Successful Defense of Her PhD Thesis

By Robin Kunkel | February 23 2018

Dr. Ting's Mentor, Nicholas Lukacs, PhD, introducing her to the stage.Dr. Ting successfully defended her PhD thesis, Notch ligand Delta-like 4 (DII4) induced epigenetic mechanisms in regulatory T cell function during pulmonary viral infection, on February 21, 2018. Working in the laboratory of Nicholas Lukacs, PhD, Anna has studied the epigenetic regulation of T cells during Respiratory Syncytial virus (RSV) infection. RSV infects over 90% of children below two years of age and is the number one world-wide cause of hospitalization for children. In many developing countries this infection is the leading cause of death in children under five. The virus infects the lower lung, causing severe mucus secretion, airway obstruction, and a bronchiolitis. Despite its global impact, there are relatively few therapies and currently no vaccine.

Anna describes her work as “Investigating the cell fate decision mechanism in regulatory T cells during pulmonary infect.” Her dissertation investigated the role of T cells in RSV pathogenesis. Activated CD4 T cells augment the mucous production in the lung and also reduce clearance of the virus. However, T regulatory cells (Treg) can reduce the RSV-induced immunopathology. Anna’s studies found that the Notch ligand, Delta-like 4 (Dll4) induces Tregs to mitigate the RSV immunopathology through a mechanism utilizing epigenetic modifications orchestrated by the domain-containing protein 3 (SMYD3). The results of her thesis may lead to future therapeutic targets for pulmonary and other mucosal inflammatory diseases.

Anna has had a very successful graduate tenure, with 4 publications and another paper submitted. In addition, she has garnered multiple awards, including:

  • Pre-doctoral fellowship, Rackham Graduate School
  • Barbour Scholarship, Rackham Graduate school
  • Trainee travel award, Society of Leukocyte Biology, (SLB)
  • Trainee Poster Award, American Association of Immunologist (AAI)
  • Excellent Student Research Award, UM Pathology Symposium

Dr. Ting will continue her training with a postdoctoral research fellowship the in the laboratory of Dr. Jakob von Moltke at the University of Washington.

Congratulations, Anna, well done!