This thesis addresses multiple approaches to investigating mechanisms of immune linked disease. There are four projects outlined below which describe the work of these investigations. First, educating students about techniques to study disease and therapies is an important area of research. Flow cytometry is a common technique in immunology and its versatility and high throughput abilities can be applied to many fields. While it is very useful, flow cytometry is a complex technique that requires training to operate and understand, and there are very few reports about administering effective training. This thesis outlines the first report of a full semester university course about flow cytometry. Students who completed the course reported increased confidence in their skill levels in conceptual, technical and analytical areas. Second, in the fight against cancer, immunotherapies may provide the necessary adaptability to successfully combat many cancer types. By strengthening and educating the immune system, clinicians can help patients fight cancer without resorting to harmful chemotherapeutics, or immunotherapies can be used in tandem with current treatments. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells and checkpoint blockade are two of the most successful immunotherapies. CAR T cells combine the extraordinary binding ability of an antibody with T cell signaling molecules via genetic engineering, for a faster and more efficient cancer killing version of the patient's own T cells. These have been remarkably successful, but results depend on the specific signaling co-receptors that are included in the design. Increased understanding of co-receptor function could help in making CAR T cell design more specific, and enable CAR T cells to be effective against more types of cancers. Metabolic function is crucial in understanding T cell therapeutics because T cells need to use energy efficiently enough to compete with ravenous cancer cells. This thesis outlines an ongoing investigation into a co-receptor's effect on CAR T cell metabolism, suggesting that co-receptors can alter CAR T cell metabolism by increasing maximal respiration. Third, CD5 is a negative regulatory co-receptor on T cells that can modulate T cell activation. Related inhibitory co-receptors (PD-1 and CTLA-4) are currently being effectively blocked as checkpoint therapies to reactivate T cells towards cancerous cells. This thesis outlines ongoing work investigating CD5's impact on cellular metabolism. We have found that T cells without CD5 are hypermetabolic as compared to normal naïve T cells. CD5 deficient T cells also have higher maximal respiration, higher basal respiration and higher glycolytic capacity. These differences are also present transiently after non-specific activation. Thus, CD5 significantly regulates the ability of a T cell to use energy, suggesting that CD5 may be a good target for creating more efficient T cell immunotherapies. Fourth, in a separate project, this thesis examines environmental causes of disease. Asthma and allergies are common and growing problems in children and adults. Evaporative cooling can be a less expensive alternative to central cooling, but its effects on allergens and other bioaerosols in the home remains unclear. This project examines the relationship between evaporative cooling and bioaerosols (dust mites, bacterial endotoxin, and fungal β-(1→3)-D-glucans) in low income homes in Utah. We report significantly higher levels of these bioaerosols, particularly fungi in homes with evaporative cooling after adjusting for home-specific factors.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





T cells, Flow cytometry, CAR T cells, metabolism, CD5, asthma



Included in

Life Sciences Commons