University of Minnesota
MICaB Graduate Program
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Current Students

Emily Thompson

Thesis Advisor: Vaiva Vezys

Year entered: 2011

Degrees received:
B.S., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 2009

Honors and Awards:

  • MICaB Travel Award ( Fall 2014)
  • AAI Trainee Abstract Award (2014)
  • MICaB golden pipetteman award (2014)
  • Immunology Training Grant (2014-2016)
  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (2016-2017)

Thesis research:
The primary goal of my thesis work is to identify what characterizes and contributes to an endogenous, self-specific CD8 T cell response.  While central and peripheral tolerance mechanisms are very effective, they are not complete, and self-specific cells do escape these mechanisms and can go on to cause disease.  Understanding how tolerance is reversed has implications for not only dampening an autoimmune response but also potentiating a response against tumor cells expressing self-antigen.  We have shown that self-specific cells can be expanded using a method of repeat antigen stimulation and that the self-specific population matures over the course of tolerance reversal.  My project works to understand if and how this maturation is taking place and how self-specific cells survey and migrate in the tissue where self-antigen is present.  Upon completion of these studies we expect to determine novel mechanisms of CD8 T cell tolerance reversal that can be exploited to develop more targeted therapies for autoimmune disease and cancer.


  • Emily A. Thompson, Lalit K. Beura, Christine E. Nelson, Kristin G. Anderson, Vaiva Vezys. Shortened intervals during heterologous boosting preserve memory CD8 T cell function but compromise longevity. Journal of Immunology (2016) 196(7):3054-63.
  • Beura, Lalit K., Hamilton, Sara E., Bi, Kevin, Schenkel, Jason M., Odumade, Oludare A., Casey, Kerry A., Thompson, Emily A., Fraser, Kathryn A., Rosato, Pam, Filali-Mouhim, Ali, Sekaly, Rafick P., Jenkins, Marc K., Vezys, Vaiva, Haining, W. Nicholas, Jameson, Stephen C., Masopust, David. Normalizing the environment recapitulates adult human immune traits in laboratory mice. Nature (2016) 532(7600):512-6.
  • Mohammed, Javed, Beura, Lalit K., Bobr, Aleh, Astry, Brian, Chicoine, Brian, Kashem, Sakeen W., Welty, Nathan E., Igyarto, Botond Z., Wijeysinghe, Sathi, Thompson, Emily A., Matte, Catherin, Bartholin, Laurent, Kaplan, Alesia, Sheppard, Dean, Bridges, Alinga G., Shlomchik, Warren D., Masopust, David, Kaplan, Daniel H. Stromal cells control epithelial residence of DC and memory T cells by regulated activation of TGF-β. Nature Immunology (2016) 17(4):414- 21.