Caitlin Pritchard

The role of cytoskeletal dynamics and organization in mast cell activation
Michael Gold

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I have always had a passion for science and I love learning new things. A graduate degree allows me to pursue my curiosity about the world around me and become a lifelong learner.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

UBC is a world-class institution with exemplary research opportunities. In addition, I have always been attached to the atmosphere and scenery that Vancouver has to offer.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I enjoy having the opportunity to work on my own research project and explore exciting new ideas.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I am fortunate to have many friends and family members nearby that I enjoy spending time with.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Don’t forget to have fun, meet new people, and make the most of the opportunities that are available to you here at UBC.


Learn more about Caitlin's research

Mast cells are immune cells that play a critical role in defending our bodies against pathogens. However, they are also implicated in allergic disorders such as asthma and anaphylaxis, in which aberrant immune responses are generated against innocuous antigens. Understanding how mast cells are activated can increase our knowledge about how and why allergic disorders occur. Mast cell activation is dependent on reorganization of the cytoskeleton, especially the actin meshwork beneath the cell membrane. Changes in actin organization allow for mast cell responses such as the release of histamine (an inflammatory mediator). This reorganization is facilitated by many regulatory proteins, some of which have not yet been identified. My research aims to identify these cytoskeletal regulating proteins and characterize their role in facilitating mast cell activation and granule release.