Jessie Barra, PhD

Dr. Barra completed her graduate training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2021, focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) and islet transplantation rejection under the mentorship of Dr. Hubert Tse. Her thesis project focused on the use of tannic acid-containing encapsulation materials to protect islet transplants from immune-mediated rejection as a potential treatment for T1D. After completing her graduate studies, she decided to pursue further training in the field of stem cell-derived beta cells and to foster a better understanding of the complicated interactions that drive human autoimmune recognition of insulin producing cell populations. To that end, she decided to join the laboratory of Dr. Holger Russ at the University of Florida for her post-doctoral studies. Her current research focus in on understanding how to genetically engineer human pluripotent stem cells to better protect them from autoimmune recognition and destruction using immune modulatory receptor expression and regulatory CAR-T cell technologies. She is also interested in understanding the developmental cues that drive survival of autoreactive thymic T cell development.