Catherine Griffin

Catherine  Griffin
MIT BE Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Katharina Ribbeck
Department: BE/UBIOME
Areas of Research: Biology
Years: 2021-2022
Research Project Title:

Gut Phages: Resistance and Evolution in Mucosal Environments

abstract:Mucosal environments are abundant in the human body and are important interfaces for microbial interactions. Phages, viruses that infect and kill microbes, can persist in these niches and influence the composition of the microbiome. The Ribbeck lab has shown that mucus-derived signals affect gene expression and the physiology of microbes. This project aims to uncover ways in which this mucosal environment might shape phage behavior, as well. We aim to understand how mucus affects the ability of phage to kill bacteria by developing a screen to identify phages with enhanced activity in mucus and later to evolve them to perform better. This project contributes to our understanding of our microbiome and to phage therapy research, as penetrating mucus is a key challenge for drug delivery.

I am participating in SuperUROP because I am passionate about understanding the ways that microbes interact and influence their hosts. I hope to uncover a new phenomenon in my project while growing more confident in my abilities as a researcher. I want to apply what I've learned in my most recent internship where I worked on directed evolution in microbes to evolving phages.