Alumna Sarah McCormick Herlihy (Biology/Toxicology ’08) continues work on her Ph.D. in Biology at Texas A&M University. The focus of her research is to elucidate a branched signal transduction pathway of a protein secreted by the social ameoba Dictyostelium. The ligand for the pathway slows to proliferation of cells allowing them to develop into fruiting bodies (containing spores) and therefore increasing survival. It also causes chemorepulsion of cells (they move away from high concentrations of the protein). A paper on her work has just been published in PLOS ONE. In a second paper recently published in the Journal of Immunology she identified a human protein (with structural similarity to the Dictyostelium ligand) which repels human and mouse neutrophils. Sarah’s work has potential therapeutic applications to the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. When neutrophils enter the lungs following smoke inhalation (one of the major causes of ARDS), lung damage can be increased.