Artem Babaian

Thesis Student (2011-2012)

Artem is currently completing his Master's degree at the University of British Columbia

BSc Molecular Biology and Genetics (Co-op), McMaster University






My research focus is in molecular virology and virus-host interactions. I earned an Honours B.Sc in Molecular Biology and Genetics from McMaster University in 2011. For my honours thesis I joined the Ashkar lab to understand mucosal immunity and to study virus-host interactions from the alternative perspective.

The current paradigm in Interleukin-15 (IL-15) biology states that its biological function is necessarily mediated through JAK/STAT signaling. This assertion stems from the study of IL-15 in the lymphoid lineage, in which JAK/STAT signaling is critical to IL-15 function. Outside of the lymphoid lineage, IL-15 can act on a broad range of cells including adipocytes, epithelium and macrophages.

Macrophages are an important component of mucosal innate immunity and the focus of my research. Previously, our lab has shown that macrophages can be primed into an anti-viral state with IL-15 pre-treatment. My research focuses on the characterization of the molecular mechanisms controlling IL-15-mediated macrophage priming. The research has lead me to explore alternative (non-JAK/STAT) signalling pathways through which IL-15 functions. These alternative signals may have important implications in understanding and redefining the biological activity of IL-15.