Molecular & Cellular Biology

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2016 Joint Biology Research Retreat

2016 Joint Biology Research Retreat

October 8th and 9th 2016 at Biosphere 2 in Oracle, AZ

BioSphere II picture from Johndedios

The Joint Biology Research Retreat encompasses the graduate programs of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Cellular & Molecular Medicince, Immunobiology, and Cancer Biology. In addition to our Keynote Speaker, activities include talks by senior graduate students and new faculty and a poster session for junior graduate students.

-->2016 Registration (Registration closes on Fri. Sept 9, 2016)

-->2016 Abstract Submission (Both Poster and Oral) (Submission closes Fri. Sept 9, 2016)

Abstract book here! Abstract Book

***It is MANDATORY that all students stay overnight***

This year's Joint Biology Retreat Keynote Speaker is Dr. Pippa Marrack

Pippa Marrack is a Howard Hughes Medical investigator who has been studying T cell activation and specificity for over 40 years.

She completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at Cambridge before she moved to UCSD to do her postdoc, where she met her husband, fellow immunologist John Kappler. In graduate school, Marrack determined that T cells are necessary for B cells to make antibodies and correspondingly that B cells and T cells recognize antigens differently. She currently holds joint positions as a distinguished professor at National Jewish Healthand University of Colorado Health Sciences. Among her inventory of awards is her induction as a member of the National Academy of Science, Lifetime Achievement Award from American Association of Immunologists, and recently her induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

In her 1976 Nature article, Marrack discovered that helper T cells recognize antigens presented on major histocomparibility complex II (MHCII). Years later, while working with Kappler, Marrack showed that in order to fight infections, the T cell receptor must recognize both the specific microbe as well as MHC. Prior to this discovery, it was thought that MHC and microbial peptides were recognized separately by T cells. Other scientists had discovered the protein but did not know it’s purpose. Together, Marrack and Kappler defined the T cell receptor to be responsible for recognition of both MHC and antigen, simultaneously. Marrack and Kappler went on to describe how T cells within the body do not attack self antigens through mechanisms of immune tolerance; T cells that recognize self antigens are removed in the thymus before they are released into the periphery. The duo also explained why superantigens such as the bacteria that causes toxic shock syndrome cause overstimulation of T cells and can lead to death.

Marrack’s current research projects include understanding the need for MHC (define this acronym somewhere in the earlier paragraphs) and refining vaccines to optimize the T cell response. Vaccines create a memory response of B and T cells to allow for a quick response when the body encounters foreign organisms. The Marrack team is working to discover a mechanism which can provide an optimal immune response against pathogens. In auto immune disease, T cells react to self antigens presented on MHC and elicit an unwarranted immune response. Recent work in the Marrack lab has suggested that it is the peptide fragments of self antigens binding to MHC in an aberrant fashion, allowing for a T cell interaction and activation. Remarkably, her lab discovered a population of B cells that have a TLR protein encoded on the X chromosome, a finding that could assist in explaining why women are more susceptible to autoimmune disease than men.


For attendees not affiliated with the sponsoring graduate programs, the total cost for the retreat is estimated at $100 per guest. If accommodations are not needed, meals for both days (5 meals plus snacks) are $65. Please send your money (cash or check made out to University of Arizona) to the administrator of the affiliated person's department (CBIO- Anne Cione, CBC- Long Diep, CMM- Adrianna Kelly, IMB- Tammie Rippberger, MCB- Denise Slay) by Friday, Sept 9, 2016. Note: If the cost is NOT paid by Friday, Sept 9, then no accommodations will be made for the non-affiliated attendee. 



Questions/Comments please contact



32540 S Biosphere Rd, Oracle, AZ 85623

Google Map

Directions from Campus (Campbell & Speedway)
Approx. Time: 45-50 minutes

1. Go north to River Road and turn left (heading west).

2. Continue on River Road and turn right (north) on Oracle Road (Arizona Highway 77).

3. Continue north approx. 24 miles on Oracle Road/Highway 77, to Biosphere 2 Road at Mile Post 96.5, and turn right.