October 20, 2011

Hooper set for next Discovery Lecture

Hooper set for next Discovery Lecture

Lora Hooper, Ph.D., internationally known for her research on microbial-immune system interactions in the human gut, will give two lectures at Vanderbilt next week sponsored by the Lamb Center for Pediatric Research.

Lora Hooper, Ph.D.

Lora Hooper, Ph.D.

Hooper, this year’s Lamb Lecturer, is associate professor of Immunology and Microbiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

She will deliver a Discovery Lecture entitled “Immune Adaptations to the Intestinal Microbiota,” at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27, in 208 Light Hall.

At 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 28, she will give the keynote lecture at the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Research Retreat at the University Club.

Hooper, who grew up in Nashville, attended Rhodes College in Memphis and earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology and Biochemistry from Washington University in St. Louis.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Jeffrey Gordon, M.D., at Washington University, she confirmed that bacteria modify carbohydrate molecules involved in cell signaling on the surface of host cells — evidence that microbes can influence host physiology.

Hooper is an expert on gnotobiotics, the study of animals raised in a germ-free environment. On arriving at UT Southwestern in 2003, she established a gnotobiotic mouse facility — one of a handful of such facilities in the country.

Three years later, she and her colleagues showed that when a microbe comes in contact with the mucous lining of the gut, the epithelial cells produce a protein that kills the bacteria. They also are investigating how intraepithelial lymphocytes help promote repair of epithelial damage.

For more information about the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Research Retreat, which is open to the Vanderbilt community, contact Yvonne Poindexter at 343-2136 or yvonne.poindexter@vanderbilt.edu.

For a complete schedule of the Discovery Lecture Series and archived video of previous lectures, go to www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/discoveryseries.