University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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Current Students

Shirdi Schmiel

Thesis Advisor: Dan Mueller

Year entered: 2011

Degrees received:
B.A., University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN, 2007

Honors and Awards:

  • 2nd place winner for the 3 Minute Thesis Competition (2016)
  • Best poster at the Robert Hebbel Research Day (2016)
  • American College of Rheumatology Workshop Travel Award (2016)
  • The American Association of Immunologists Travel Award (2016)
  • Diversity supplement: PO1AI035296 (2015-2017)
  • Immunology Training Grant (2013-2015)
  • FASEB MARC travel award (2012)

Thesis research:

Adenosine is a purine nucleoside that plays a role in various biological functions including immunological tolerance. Various studies have previously reported that activation of adenosine receptor 2a (A2aR) via agonists promotes tolerance in mouse models of autoimmunity by promoting T cell anergy. Using a mouse model of arthritis, our lab has investigated the role of upstream (CD73, 5'-nucleotidase) and downstream (adenosine receptor 2a) factors that regulate adenosine-mediated tolerance. Similar to previous studies, our preliminary data suggest that treatment with A2aR agonists protects against the development of severe autoimmune arthritis. However, protection against autoimmunity is not due to the induction of anergy, but rather a reduction in follicular helper T cells that subsequently reduced the number of class switched GPI-specific plasmablasts. I am currently focused on investigating the factors in this adenosine-mediated pathway that contribute to this alteration of T cell differentiation.


  • Kalekar LK, Schmiel SE, Nandiwada SL, Lam WY, Barsness LO, Zhang N, Stritesky GL, Malhotra D, Pauken KE, Linehan JL, O'Sullivan MG, Fife BF, Hogquist KA, Jenkins MK & Mueller DL. 2016. CD4+ T cell anergy prevents autoimmunity and generates regulatory T cell precursors. Nature Immunology