Skip to main content

Kathryn Wierenga

Kathryn WierengaCooperating Doctoral Program: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

EITS Track: Biomedical Toxicology

Education: B.S. Chemistry, Hillsdale College

Research Interests:
I am interested in the biochemical and molecular mechanisms behind exposure to toxins and the ways biological systems respond to such injuries. My tentative dissertation will involve the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on decreasing the inflammatory response to toxic silica exposure in lupus prone mice. As a rotation project, I used mass spectrometry to perform lipodomic analysis on macrophages grown in media supplemented with various fatty acids and then exposed to silica in order to determine metabolites that play a role in either promoting or resolving the inflammatory response to silica. In addition, I used enzyme-linked immonosorbent assays to measure and detect changes in IL-1β levels in response to treatment of macrophages with fatty acids and silica. Future work could include further lipodomic analysis in order to further determine the metabolites that most significantly influence inflammation to protect against toxins, determination of the molecular mechanism and pathways through with these metabolites are acting, or analysis of changes in the metabolism of lipids in response to toxins.

Major Professor: James Pestka,  Food Science and Human Nutrition / Microbiology & Molecular Genetics