Jessica Ritter


Jessica Ritter
BS, Biochemistry & Biophysics
Rensselear Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY
MS, Forensic Science
University of New Haven
New Haven, CT
PhD, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine
Boston, MA
Research Technician
Caroline Genco, PhD, Adviser



I work with the sexually transmitted bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae analyzing its effect on human macrophage survival. Cell death is used as a mechanism for maintaining homeostasis. Classically, cell death has been viewed as either apoptosis or necrosis, however recent studies have led to the expansion of the cell death pathways to include pyroptosis and pyronecrosis. For example, it has been shown that certain gram-negative bacteria induce pyroptosis in macrophages. Specific studies using the gram-negative pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae have demonstrated that monocytes undergo pyronecrotic cell death during stimulation, yet other immune cells, such as phagocytic neutrophils and epithelial cells, are resistant to cell death during N. gonorrhoeae stimulation. Interestingly, there is little research concerning cell death in other phagocytic immune cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells during N. gonorrhoeae infection. Understanding the mechanisms by which this pathogen alters host cell specific pro- and anti-survival cues has the potential to innovate therapeutic approaches targeting this inflammatory disease. Due to lack of research pertaining to macrophage responses as the result of N. gonorrhoeae my work aims to fill this gap in research analyzing induce cell death pathways and monitoring its effects on surrounding cells.

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