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Sarah Dulson, Ph.D.

Microbiology & Immunology


University of Alabama Birmingham – Biomedical Sciences – Immunology


Helen Lazear, Ph.D.


I received my PhD in Immunology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. There, I trained in the Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology under the mentorship of Dr. Laurie Harrington whose lab studies T cell-mediated autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis and Inflammatoy Bowel Disease. My dissertation focused on a population of intestinal immune cells called Innate Lymphoid Cells (ILCs). I was particularly interested in the extracellular signals that modulated the function of ILCs in the context of enteric infection as well as chronic inflammation.

As a SPIRE Scholar, I am conducting research under the joint mentorship of Drs. Bruce Cairns and Rob Maile in the Department of Surgery. My project evaluates the immune status of patients with burn injuries and identifies mechanisms that manipulate the immune response and protect against subsequent lung infection. Importantly, burn injury affects men and women differently, with females having significantly higher inpatient mortality. Therefore, my project also investigates key cellular mechanisms that are responsible for the sex differences associated with clinical outcomes following burn injury.

In my undergraduate and graduate studies, I served as a teaching assistant in courses including Anatomy & Physiology and Mucosal Immunology. I have also taken courses on pedagogy that focused on evidence-based teaching strategies and the theory of teaching as research. As a SPIRE scholar, I am particularly excited to be in a position to influence a diverse student population, and I believe that fostering a cohort of young scientists that represent all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations will enhance the quality of science conducted in future generations. Further, I am looking forward to hands-on experience in course development and integrating innovative and active learning environments into the undergraduate STEM classroom.