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Dr. Mirza Shaper′s research career began in 1992, in The Aga Khan University with the identification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis surface proteins that causes T cell activation and proliferation. This project was followed by Molecular Epidemiology of M tuberculosis using, Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP). In the years that followed, I worked on numerous epidemiological projects including, outbreak investigations of both Dengue  and Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fever viruses using serological testing , optimization of PCR from peripheral blood mononuclear cells for the early detection of pulmonary M. tuberculosis . The last project she was involved in before leaving Pakistan was the epidemiology of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia in commercial sex workers and long distance truck drivers, using urine samples. This project was what brought her to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where she started working on the molecular epidemiology of transmission of tuberculosis in inmates in the correctional facilities in Alabama. While working on this project she was accepted to the Microbiology Graduate Program. Her thesis studies and subsequent postdoctoral studies have been on virulence molecules of Streptococcus pneumoniae.
After a year of post-doctoral studies she was accepted as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas-Health Sciences Center School of public Health. As a part of the Health Sciences system she was given the opportunity to work with a cohort of 2500 Mexican Americans living on the Mexico-Texas border. This population of Mexican Americans suffers from severe health disparities, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2-diabetes mellitus. It is well known that individuals with type 2 diabetes in particular uncontrolled diabetes are at a higher risk of acquiring upper-respiratory tract infections with pathogens such as M. tuberculosis and S. pneumoniae. With her vast knowledge of pneumococcal infections and her years of experience in mechanisms of pathogenesis, she set out to investigate modulations of immune responses in these participants. Currently her research focus includes investigation of immune responses in individuals with diabetes, more specifically she is investigating alterations in T cell differentiation in particular Th-17 differentiation in the cohort participants in response to stimulations by pneumococcal antigens. Additionally to complement studies on T cell differentiation and activation we also investigated the cytokine profile of individuals with diabetes and diabetes with co-morbidities such as metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. The work is under review for publication in Journal of Clinical Investigation and Cytokine. She would like to further explore the role of hyperglycemia on diabetes-associated inflammation and understand the mechanisms by which hyperglycemia modulates cytokine production and subsequent impairment/alterations of immune responses.
Innate and adaptive immune responses to pneumococcal infections.
|Editorial: Epidemiol 2011, 1:102e|
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