Meet Our People: Desiree Avery & Tyler Landrith – Summer 2015

From left, Seema Tiwari-Woodruff, Tyler Landrith, and Desiree Avery.

Desiree Avery

As the clinical education coordinator, Desiree Avery has played a critical role in the planning and launch of the third year curriculum. Within the education department, Desiree and her colleagues manage and coordinate a broad range of details that are critical to the third and fourth year of the medical education program.

Coordinating clinical education for the medical school requires extensive planning and preparation long before a cohort of students begins a phase of clinical training. As part of this, in concert with clerkship directors and clerkship coordinators, Desiree is instrumental in identifying and developing relationships with clinical partners to ensure adequate capacity for training our current and future students.

As each phase of clinical training progresses, Desiree will work with colleagues to monitor student progress and assist with all aspects of program evaluation, ensuring consistency across clinical training sites and overall programmatic quality. Using feedback received from formal student evaluations and course feedback from faculty and residents, Desiree and her colleagues in the undergraduate medical education department of the SOM will be responsible for implementing any necessary changes and adjustments identified throughout each phase of the program.

In addition to the development, coordination and rollout of the third year curriculum, Desiree and her colleagues are working on final preparation of the fourth year program, which the inaugural class will begin in summer 2016.

Tyler Landrith

As a Ph.D. student in biomedical sciences, Tyler conducts research on the brain’s immune response to Toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic infection present in 3 out of 10 people worldwide. His research under Associate Professor Emma Wilson recently received recognition from the American Association of Immunologists, who named him a graduate student fellow and awarded funds to the Wilson lab to support Tyler’s work.

By investigating the role of a specific group of immune cells that appear to be memory cells, Tyler seeks to better understand how the immune system controls chronic infections.

While Tyler explains that his research is not aimed at developing a specific vaccine, he hopes his work contributes to improving our understanding of how to vaccinate against complex, persistent infections like Toxoplasma gondii.

Tyler cites a trip to Kenya that he took shortly after graduating college as an instrumental experience that helped solidify his interest in pursuing research in biomedical sciences.

“Volunteering in the temporary clinics we set up in Kenyan villages opened my eyes to the reality of health disparities. The experience sparked my interest in public health and ultimately translational research,” he said. Tyler aspires to a career in public health research focusing on neglected tropical diseases like the ones he saw during his time in Kenya.

Seema Tiwari-Woodruff

As associate professor of biomedical sciences, Seema Tiwari-Woodruff leads a laboratory investigating treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Five primary projects in her lab explore effectiveness of current and potential treatments for MS.

As MS progresses, the protective coating, or myelin sheath, around nerve fibers that transmit information from neurons to the rest of the body deteriorates. As a result, the exposed nerve fibers, called axons, become damaged. The signals they transmit can become delayed and eventually lost, resulting in loss of sensation, coordination and sometimes permanent paralysis for many MS patients.

Tiwari-Woodruff’s lab seeks to identify potential treatments to slow, halt and possibly reverse demyelination, theoretically preventing the devastating progression of MS and possibly reversing existing nerve damage. A recently published study led by Tiwari-Woodruff describes a promising chemical compound, indazole chloride, which her team has discovered can remyelinate axons in mice by mimicking estrogen and activating estrogen receptors.

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