Do bats have a unique immune system?

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About This Project

Bats have the unique ability to host many viruses without become sick themselves. The major histocompatibility complex, or MHC, is a set of genes that regulate the vertebrate immune response. By looking at these genes, we will be able to gain a better understanding of the bat immune system and the basic biology which allows bats to function as reservoirs for viruses that may pose a threat to human populations.

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These funds will be used to support my research project. Your contributions will help me purchase the laboratory equipment and the buffers, primers, and reagents that I need for DNA sequencing. I am also requesting funds for a rabies vaccine, so I can work safely with live bats in the future. This will allow me to eventually continue this research project with a greater number of bat species.

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Bats are amazingly interesting, but often maligned creatures. This work is a unique example of how understanding biodiversity can make a difference for both conservation and human health. Understanding bats' immune systems will not only allow us to better conserve their populations but will also allow us to better understand how to fight human diseases.

Meet the Team

Amy Wray
Amy Wray

Team Bio

I'm from San Diego, California and did my undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley. Currently, I live in New York City where I'm a Conservation Biology MA student at Columbia University. In my free time, I like to go running in Central Park in search of birds that aren't pigeons.

I am fascinated by connections between human, wildlife, and environmental health. My background has included research in genetics, ecology, and wildlife disease. I also have previous experience in wildlife veterinary care and youth science outreach.

In the future, I plan to continue my research on bat immune genetics and disease ecology in the context of a doctorate program. Eventually, I want to expand this project to include fieldwork so that I can obtain samples for more bat species. All samples will be collected using minimally invasive techniques.

I hope to focus in particular on the importance of conservation and habitat protection as methods of preventing the future emergence of novel pathogens from wildlife.

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