Branson Chen


Fourth Year Thesis Student

Bachelor of Health Sciences, McMaster University

905-525-9140 extension 22778













I am currently studying Health Sciences at McMaster University and I have joined the Ashkar lab to work on my fourth year thesis project. I have great interest in the fields of virology and immunology, and for this reason I intended to undertake my project in this lab. My project will consist primarily of in vivo murine models, which examine the role of nitric oxide (NO) and IFN-γ in the genital mucosal site against HSV-2.

IFN-γ is a type II interferon produced by NK cells that has inhibitory effects on viral replication, stemming from its overarching immunostimulatory and immunomodulatory effects. It has been shown that IFN- γ is a potent inducer of NO production through nitric oxide synthases (NOS). NO plays an important antimicrobial role against numerous pathogens and is particularly effective in the clearance of viruses. Studies have demonstrated that exogenous sources of NO reduces replication of HSV-2 in various cell lines. Based on many preliminary results generated by the Ashkar Lab, we hypothesize that NK cell-derived IFN-γ induces the production of NO from innate immune cells, leading to a reduction in viral replication and a more effective adaptive immune response against HSV-2. The experiments that I conduct will elucidate the interactions between NO, IFN-γ, and NK cells in the context of innate antiviral activity in the genital mucosal site.