Blake P. Bertrand

Blake Bertrand

Blake P. Bertrand

PhD Candidate in IGPBS - Immunology, Pathology & Infectious Disease

American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship (2021-2023)

The American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship program provides research assistance and training to help students initiate careers in areas broadly elated to cardiovascular function, disease and stroke, or to related basic science, bioengineering or biotechnology, and public health problems.  Blake Bertrand has been awarded a two-year AHA fellowship for his project, “Elucidating myeloid-derived suppressor cell fate during S. aureus biofilm infection.”  During Staphylococcus aureus biofilm infection, immature, immunosuppressive myeloid cells (myeloid-derived suppressor cells; MDSCs) are preferentially recruited to the site of infection. In a healthy individual, these cells mature into terminal effector cells; however, pathological states such as cancer and chronic infection may disrupt this process. Blake’s project tests the hypothesis that S. aureus chronic biofilm infection creates a local environment that prevents the differentiation of MDSCs into terminal effector cells, thereby promoting biofilm persistence. A PhD Candidate in IGPBS – Immunology, Pathology & Infectious Diseases, Blake is pursuing his dissertation research under the tutelage of Tammy Kielian, PhD, Professor of Pathology & Microbiology in the College of Medicine.