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Q&A with IIDR Summer Fellowship Recipient Karanbir Brar

Karanbir Brar is one of 10 IIDR trainees to have received the Institute’s prestigious Summer Fellowship Award. The highly competitive fellowship, now in its fourth year and worth $1,000, is designed to support students working in the labs of IIDR members during their summer practicum, which runs from May to August.

Whose lab are you working in and what drew you to their research?

I work in Dr. James Mahony’s lab. Dr. Mahony is a leading authority in the field of virology. I was especially intrigued by the application-based research he conducts.

Describe your research project

In a way, my research project is an extension of what the Mahony Lab is already engaged in. They have developed a few therapeutic peptides against a variety of different viruses and other infectious agents, and I am working to engineer commensal bacteria to secrete these peptides. Basically, these peptides could potentially serve as protective agents, acting as a therapy for people in the clinic.

What are the real world applications of your research?

If we can engineer commensal bacteria to secrete these therapeutic peptides, this could serve as a type of treatment for people who find themselves in the clinic and are unable to receive, for example, vaccinations.

What do you hope to accomplish during your fellowship?

My goal is to get my feet wet, with regard to learning all I can in the lab. There are many techniques and methodologies used to complete the groundbreaking work happening in the Mahony Lab. And since my project is long-term, learning all I can will allow me to see it through to the end.

How will this fellowship allow you to do this?

This fellowship means a lot to me. It is providing me with the opportunity to support myself while I am working in the lab.

What is your end goal, in terms of a career?

I am very much open to whatever comes my way. I like keeping my options open. We will see what the future holds.