Exchange Program on Respiratory Infections

February 28, 2018

Since January, Loreani Noguera, a student of Biochemistry performing her undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Susan Bueno at Chile’s Universidad Católica (UC), has been working as an intern at Columbia University’s Medical Center’s (CUMC) Prince Lab, thanks to a project financed by Chile’s National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (Fondecyt), the Millennium Institute on Immunology and Immunotherapy, and the US’ National Institute of Health (NIH). During three months, she will be doing research on the topic of immune responses to adapted pathogens under the leadership of Dr. Alice Prince, Professor of Pediatrics at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, and head of the Prince Lab.

This exchange is part of a long-standing collaboration focused on respiratory infections between Dr. Susan Bueno, associate professor at the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at UC’s School of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Prince, which began in 2011.

At that time, Dr. Bueno’s laboratory, which leads the research on bacterial pathogenesis in Chile, looked into introducing a new experimental model to study bacterial infection in the respiratory tract. Given the experience and reputation of Dr. Prince's group, they requested her team’s advice in the establishment of protocols and techniques associated to this project.

In that context, Pamela Nieto (PhD student in Biological Sciences at UC, also supervised by Dr. Bueno) spent three months as intern in Dr. Prince’s lab during 2013. The same year, in November, Dr. Prince visited Chile and participated in the "Spring Immunology Symposium", organized by the Millennium Institute on Immunology and Immunotherapy, where Dr. Bueno is an associate researcher, in association with UC. During her visit, she participated in several academic activities, gave a lecture to the students of the Molecular Genetics and Microbiology PhD program, and advised graduate and doctoral Chilean students in their research projects. The collaboration began to yield results in the form the publication of two scientific articles in international journals, between the years 2014 and 2015, co-authored by both labs.

Subsequently, Hernán Peñaloza (PhD student in Biological Sciences at Universidad Católica supervised by Dr. Bueno), participated in two doctoral internships at Dr. Prince’s Lab, of five and seven months in 2015 and 2016, respectively. His work resulted in the publication of two joint publications in scientific journals during 2016.

In March 2017, Danielle Ahn, assistant professor at CUMC and senior researcher at Dr. Prince's lab, visited Chile to give an open lecture entitled “Acquired Resistance to Host Immune System Clearance of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) Klebsiella pneumonia” at UC, and to participate in closed workshops with local doctors at the UC Clinical Hospital, the School of Biological Sciences and at Dr. Bueno’s lab, focusing on the challenges and possible solutions on antibiotic resistance.

During these five years, joint-collaboration has strengthen and become highly productive. It has enriched both Dr. Bueno’s and Dr. Prince’s respective teams, resulting in the publication of four scientific articles in high-impact journals*, four presentations at international conferences and at least one annual exchange visit to disseminate the results of the work of both teams. Currently, this collaboration has been strengthened by new research projects, where the study of pathogens is expanding, new techniques have been implemented and efforts are being made to guarantee new exchanges. The support from both universities, PUC and Columbia, has been critical for these achievements as well as funding agencies such as NIH in the US and CONICYT, Millennium Scientific Initiative and CORFO in Chile.


*The following are the scientific articles jointly published by Dr. Buenos’s and Dr. Prince’s teams:

**In the picture: Sebastián Riquelme, postdoctoral fellow at Prince Lab; Daniel Ahn, MD, assistant professor at CUMC; Alice Prince, MD, full professor at CUMC and head of the Prince Lab; Loreani Noguera, undergraduate student at UC; Victor Castano, Lab technician at Prince Lab.