Justin M Richner

    Email Address: richner@uic.edu
    College: Medicine Department: Microbiology and Immunology
    Title: Assistant Professor
    Office: E829 Medical Sciences Bldg Phone: 312-996-4834
    Webpage: https://richner8.wixsite.com/richnerlab
    Participating in the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Awards program: Yes

    Research Interest:
    The overall goal of the Richner lab is to define the signaling pathways, cytokine networks, and cellular dynamics which lead to a robust adaptive immune response and immunologic memory following viral infection or vaccination. With this information, we can develop novel prophylactics and therapeutics to combat infectious diseases.

    Increased age is associated with a decrease in the function of the immune response, leading to a greater risk of infectious diseases and reduced vaccine efficacy. One aim of the lab is to uncover the mechanistic underpinning of the defective immune response in aged populations.

    A second aim of the lab is to develop novel vaccine strategies. Recent technological advances have lead to a number of promising vaccine platforms including antigen-coding mRNA vaccines encpasidated in a lipid nanoparticle. Our lab is working to refine these mRNA-LNP vaccines for use in immunosupressed populations as well as combatting infectious diseases which have proven a significant challenge to traditional vaccine development, such as Dengue virus.

    Minimum time commitment in hours per week: 10

    Qualifications of a Student:
    * Preferred majors: Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, Bioengineering

    * Preferred coursework: Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular biology, Biochemistry, Cell Biology

    * Minimum GPA: 3.4

    * Qualifications:

    - Prior lab experience is not required but is a plus.

    - Strong willingness to learn new techniques and not be afraid to work with mice.

    - A successful candidate will follow directions precisely and pay close attention to details.

    Honors College students will be given priority.

    Students who are motivated and have experience in our lab will become eligible to work half- or full-time during the summer as hourly paid employees.

    Brief Summary of what is expected from the student:
    Undergraduate students in the lab are expected to devote at least 10 hours per week of time in the laboratory. Because experiments often require multiple hours to set up and execute, students should have at least two large blocks of time available per week.

    Sophomores: We are looking for students who are willing to commit to working in the lab for 2+ years, pending an initial evaluation period.

    Juniors/Seniors need prior research experience in specific research areas (e.g. standard molecular biology techniques like PCR and cloning, or working with mice).

    * Training plan:

    Initially, you will learn basic lab techniques and assist with routine maintenance of the lab. You will then choose a specific project to work on that is appropriate for your time commitment, skill set, and research interest.

    We also expect candidates to enhance their experience by immersing themselves in the scientific background/literature relevant to the lab’s research. High-performing students may get the chance to present their research at seminars and meetings.

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