Publications by authors named "Rebecca L Sparks-Thissen"

7 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Inside the Undergraduate Immunology Classroom: Current Practices that Provide a Framework for Curriculum Consensus.

J Microbiol Biol Educ 2021 29;22(1). Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Biosciences Department, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Moorhead, MN 56563.

Although immunological research has become increasingly important in recent decades for understanding infectious and immune-mediated diseases, immunological pedagogy at the undergraduate level has lagged behind in reports of evidence-based scholarship. To address the need for a renewed emphasis on immunology education and to describe the current status of undergraduate education in immunology, an online survey of instructors with experience in teaching immunology was conducted. The survey investigated the effects of instructors' level of teaching experience, target student population, and course components on the emphasis given to certain immunology subtopics in their courses. Instructor teaching experience and current role in teaching influenced the proportion of time allotted to lab techniques, clinical topics, and evolutionary aspects, but type of institution (undergraduate and graduate degree-granting institutions) did not affect course content or emphasis on subtopics. Topics that received the greatest emphasis were the adaptive immune system, the innate immune system, host-pathogen interactions, and molecular mechanisms. Vaccines, hypersensitivity, autoimmunity, and essential immunology techniques were ranked slightly lower, while topics such as evolution, metabolism and antibody purification received the least emphasis. Inclusion of a lab component increased time given to lab-related and clinical topics but did not affect the perceived importance of various scientific competencies. These data describe current curricular practices of instructors who have experience teaching immunology and inform curricular priorities and course design frameworks for undergraduate immunology education.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2269DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7861212PMC
January 2021

The use of writing assignments to help students synthesize content in upper-level undergraduate biology courses.

FEMS Microbiol Lett 2017 02;364(3)

Biology education is undergoing a transformation toward a more student-centered, inquiry-driven classroom. Many educators have designed engaging assignments that are designed to help undergraduate students gain exposure to the scientific process and data analysis. One of these types of assignments is use of a grant proposal assignment. Many instructors have used these assignments in lecture-based courses to help students process information in the literature and apply that information to a novel problem such as design of an antiviral drug or a vaccine. These assignments have been helpful in engaging students in the scientific process in the absence of an inquiry-driven laboratory. This commentary discusses the application of these grant proposal writing assignments to undergraduate biology courses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsle/fnx024DOI Listing
February 2017

Using a Vaccine Proposal Assignment to Help Students Synthesize Topics Covered in an Undergraduate Immunology Course.

J Microbiol Biol Educ 2015 Dec 1;16(2):258-9. Epub 2015 Dec 1.

Department of Biology, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN 47712.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v16i2.896DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690570PMC
December 2015

The inner membrane protein, YhiM, is necessary for Escherichia coli (E. coli) survival in acidic conditions.

Arch Microbiol 2012 Jul 12;194(7):637-41. Epub 2012 Feb 12.

Department of Biology, Wabash College, 301 W. Wabash Avenue, Crawfordsville, IN 47933, USA.

Escherichia coli must be able to survive extreme acidic conditions. We were interested in determining the role of the inner membrane protein YhiM in survival in acidic conditions. Previous data demonstrated that the yhiM gene was upregulated in acidic conditions (Tucker et al. in J Bacteriol. 184:6551-6558, 2002). We therefore tested tn10 insertions into the yhiM gene for their ability to survive at low pH (pH 2.5). We show that YhiM was required for survival at pH 2.5. We also tested the YhiM dependence of the different acid resistance pathways. YhiM was required for the RpoS, glutamine and lysine-dependent acid resistance pathways. In contrast, YhiM was not required for the arginine-dependent acid resistance pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00203-012-0798-xDOI Listing
July 2012

CD4 T cell control of acute and latent murine gammaherpesvirus infection requires IFNgamma.

Virology 2005 Aug;338(2):201-8

Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Ave., Box 8118, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.

Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (gammaHV68, MHV-68)-specific CD4 T cells control gammaHV68 infection by reducing the frequency of latently infected cells and by inhibiting viral replication. We have previously demonstrated that CD4 T cells do not require CD8 T or B cells to control gammaHV68 replication, demonstrating a helper-independent activity of CD4 T cells during gammaHV68 infection. The effector mechanism(s) required for this helper-independent function of CD4 T cells and for the inhibition of the establishment of latency by CD4 T cells are not known. Since IFNgamma has been previously shown to be important for control of acute, latent, and persistent gammaHV68 infection, we tested the hypothesis that CD4 T cells require IFNgamma to limit gammaHV68 latency and replication. We utilized a previously described system in which T cell receptor (TCR) transgenic T cells (DO.11.10) and a recombinant virus (gammaHV68.OVA) allow for evaluation of high numbers of virus-specific CD4 T cells during both acute and latent infection. We show here that virus-specific CD4 T cells require IFNgamma for their anti-viral function in both acute and latent gammaHV68 infection. We additionally show that an in vitro derived T helper type 1 (TH1) CD4 T cell clone, which produces IFNgamma, inhibits gammaHV68 replication after adoptive transfer into RAG mice. Together, data presented here demonstrate that both CD4 T cell-mediated helper-independent control of gammaHV68 replication and inhibition of the establishment of gammaHV68 latency require IFNgamma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2005.05.011DOI Listing
August 2005

An optimized CD8+ T-cell response controls productive and latent gammaherpesvirus infection.

J Virol 2005 Feb;79(4):2573-83

Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid, Box 8118, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.

Strategies to prime CD8(+) T cells against Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (gammaHV68; MHV68) latency have, to date, resulted in only limited effects. While early forms of latency (<21 days) were significantly reduced, effects were not seen at later times, indicating loss of control by the primed CD8(+) T cells. In the present study, we evaluated CD8(+) T cells in an optimized system, consisting of OTI T-cell-receptor (TCR) transgenic mice, which generate clonal CD8(+) T cells specific for K(b)-SIINFEKL of OVA, and a recombinant gammaHV68 that expresses OVA (gammaHV68.OVA). Our aim was to test whether this optimized system would result in more effective control not only of acute infection but also of later forms of latent infection than was seen with previous strategies. First, we show that OTI CD8(+) T cells effectively controlled acute replication of gammaHV68.OVA in liver, lung, and spleen at 8 and 16 days after infection of OTI/RAG mice, which lack expression of B and CD4(+) T cells. However, we found that, despite eliminating detectable acute replication, the OTI CD8(+) T cells did not prevent the establishment of latency in the OTI/RAG mice. We next evaluated the effectiveness of OTI T cells in OTI/B6 animals, which express B cells--a major site of latency in wild-type mice--and CD4(+) T cells. In OTI/B6 mice OTI CD8(+) T cells not only reduced the frequency of cells that reactivate from latency and the frequency of cells bearing the viral genome at 16 days after infection (similar to what has been reported before) but also were effective at reducing latency at 42 days after infection. Together, these data show that CD8(+) T cells are sufficient, in the absence of B cells and CD4(+) T cells, for effective control of acute replication. The data also demonstrate for the first time that a strong CD8(+) T-cell response can limit long-term latent infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.79.4.2573-2583.2005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC546552PMC
February 2005

An optimized CD4 T-cell response can control productive and latent gammaherpesvirus infection.

J Virol 2004 Jul;78(13):6827-35

Department of Pathology and Immunology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.

CD4 T cells are important for control of infection with murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (gamma HV68), but it is not known whether CD4 T cells function via provision of help to other lymphocyte subsets, such as B cells and CD8 T cells, or have an independent antiviral function. Moreover, under conditions of natural infection, the CD4 T-cell response is not sufficient to eliminate infection. To determine the functional capacities of CD4 T cells under optimal or near-optimal conditions and to determine whether CD4 T cells can control gamma HV68 infection in the absence of CD8 T cells or B cells, we studied the effect of ovalbumin (OVA)-specific CD4 T cells on infection with a recombinant gamma HV68 that expresses OVA. OVA-specific CD4 T cells limited acute gamma HV68 replication and prolonged the life of infected T-cell receptor-transgenic RAG (DO.11.10/RAG) mice, demonstrating CD4 T-cell antiviral activity, independent of CD8 T cells and B cells. Despite CD4 T-cell-mediated control of acute infection, latent infection was established in DO.11.10/RAG mice. However, OVA-specific CD4 T cells reduced the frequency of latently infected cells both early (16 days postinfection) and late (42 days postinfection) after infection of mice containing CD8 T cells and B cells (DO.11.10 mice). These results show that OVA-specific CD4 T cells have B-cell and CD8 T-cell-independent antiviral functions in the control of acute infection and can, in the absence of preexisting CD8 T-cell or B-cell immunity, inhibit the establishment of gammaherpesvirus latency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.78.13.6827-6835.2004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC421646PMC
July 2004