Neurobiology concentrator Isa DeLaura (‘18) has been awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to support her research in Montería, Colombia. DeLaura will spend next year studying hantavirus, a rodent-borne virus that can cause fatal lung infections and hemorrhagic fevers, in conjunction with the Salim Mattar Lab at Universidad de Córdoba in Colombia.
The Fulbright Research Grant provides financial support for recent graduates, graduate students,and young professionals pursuing international research programs. The program promotes community engagement and cultural exchange alongside scholarship.
DeLaura, who has spent the past two years working on immunotherapies for glioblastoma as part of Antonio Chiocca’s lab at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is looking forward to applying the immunology background she learned there to a different disease in Colombia.
“I have loved the immunological approaches of my current lab, and I am excited to use what I’ve learned to explore different applications of immunology,” she says. “I also am excited to continue improving my Spanish. I have been lucky enough to be a part of public health campaigns in Spanish speaking countries during my time in college, and I am excited to use my Spanish in a public health setting.”
DeLaura’s research subject, hantavirus, is somewhat mysterious because of how widely its effects vary. Some hantavirus infections can be fatal, but others can be benign. DeLaura hopes to shed light on why some infections become so much more dangerous than others by studying the genetics of hantavirus strains.
“I’m going to be working on RNA based diagnostics to distinguish between disease-causing and non-disease-causing strains,” DeLaura explains. “I also will be involved in public health campaigns on preventing the spread of hantavirus, which is transmitted by rodents. Montería is in a rural area, and so I will be gathering data from and developing educational materials for local residents.”
DeLaura would like to thank her mentors postdoc Carmela Passaro and primary investigator Antonio Chiocca, as well as Associate Neurobiology Concentration Advisor Laura Magnotti.
“It is such a well-deserved honor for Isa to be awarded a Fulbright to study the hantavirus in Colombia,” says Magnotti. “Her experiences at Harvard have perfectly prepared her to make the most of this experience, from her concentration in Neurobiology and secondary in Romance Languages, to her medical brigades trips to Panama and Nicaragua, to her highly successful research project in the Chiocca lab. I look forward to hearing about her future accomplishments in Colombia and beyond!”