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Education / Immunology Training Grant / Trainees / Current Trainee Bios


Current Trainee Bios

Amelia Clark

  • Education: B.S. at Virginia Tech, M.S. at University of Rochester, and currently in IMV PhD program.
  • Lab: Brian Altman
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2022
  • Research Interests: My long-term research interest is to discover how the circadian clock, a key regulatory system within almost all cells, contributes to the regulation of immune responses in human disease. For my doctorate thesis I have chosen to investigate how circadian regulation of macrophage function influences immune suppression within the tumor microenvironment. My hope is that by better understanding how time-of-day regulation of immune responses impacts disease progression and outcome, we can leverage this to time treatments to the time of day it would be most advantageous.
  • Best Immune cell/favorite factor:  As the primary cells that bridge the innate and adaptive arms of the immune response, dendritic cells are my favorite immune cell. My favorite immune factors are interferons, for their multi-faceted roles in promoting cell defense and innate + adaptive immune responses.
  • Fun fact:  I am a huge VT Hokie football fan, and I am awaiting the day that we return to our former glory. In the meantime, I occupy myself with baking, ballet, and my two 16-pound cats.

Cooper Sailer

  • Education: B.S. University of Buffalo, M.A. University of Buffalo, M.S. University of Rochester
  • Lab: Minsoo Kim
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2021
  • Research Interests:  I am interested in better understanding the factors that limit the success of adoptive cell therapies, such as CAR T cell therapy, for solid tumors. My main research interest is investigating both the CAR T cell intrinsic and extrinsic factors that constrain their migration to distal tumor sites. I am currently studying how the development of T cell exhaustion in the CAR T infusion product affects their migratory properties both in vitro and in vivo using a HER2 CAR T cell model targeting HER2-positive breast cancer and melanoma. 
  • Best Immune cell/favorite factor:  CAR+ CD8 T cell
  • Fun fact:  I am a huge Buffalo sports fan, a golf enthusiast, and video-gamer.

Mary Moran, M.S.

  • Education: B.S. College of the Holy Cross, M.S. Univ. Rochester, MPH Univ. Rochester (in progress)
  • Lab: Lisa Beck
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2021
  • Research Interests:  My research project is focused on identifying S. aureus virulence factors that alter epithelial skin cells to make them more susceptible to viral infection and aims at understanding the mechanisms behind this action. This is an important question in the context of atopic dermatitis, in which patients are highly colonized with S. aureus and are uniquely susceptible to serious viral skin infections. 
  • Favorite immune factor:  My favorite immune factor is the complement system. Even though I have never done any research related to complement I loved learning about it as an undergrad and it was the first lesson that made me really interested in immunology. 
  • Fun fact: I love sailing on Lake George with my family and our dog.

Tara Vrooman

  • Education: B.S. University of Rochester, M.S. University of Rocheste
  • Lab: Scott Gerber
  • T32 association: Trainee since September 2022
  • Research Interests: I am interested in exploring the T cell memory response induced by a combination immunotherapy/radiotherapy treatment against pancreatic cancer in an orthotopic murine model. I am currently focused on identifying whether a specific CD4+ memory T cell subset is enhanced by this therapy to provide long-lasting systemic protection from tumor recurrence. 
  • Favorite immune cell: CD4+ T Cells
  • Fun fact: I enjoy crocheting and crocheted two cat couches for my kittens!

Alicia Healey

  • Education: B.S. Simmons University, M.S. University of Rochester
  • Lab: B. Paige Lawrence
  • T32 association: Trainee since 2022
  • Research Interests: My research project is centered around understanding the impact of aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) activation on monocytic lineage cells during respiratory viral infection. While many studies indicate that AHR activation modifies adaptive immune responses to respiratory viral infection, less is known about the impact of AHR activation on monocytic cell responses to infection. Yet, the dysregulation of monocytic lineage cells contributes to poorer clinical outcomes in coronavirus and influenza A virus infections. Gaining a detailed understanding of how AHR activation influences monocytic cell responses to respiratory viral infection will provide key insight into how environmental exposures modify immune responses and inform new approaches aimed at mitigating the devastating effects of respiratory viruses.
  • Favorite immune cell: Monocytes!
  • Fun fact: I went scuba diving in the Bermuda triangle!