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Derick Okwan-Duodu

Current Status: Alumni

Graduate Department: Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis

Other Degrees: BA, Middlebury College;  

Advisor(s): Kenneth Bernstein, MD;

Hometown: Takoradi, Ghana

Hobbies

Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Salsa

Research

I studied the role of the renin-angiotensin system, a major regulator of mammalian blood pressure, in macrophage-mediated inflammatory responses. Specifically, my PhD thesis focused on modification of macrophage heterogeneity and function by angiotensin converting enzyme. Macrophages are critical to a wide variety of host defense against tumors, lipids, and infections. Yet, the mechanisms regulating their polarization and heterogeneity are not fully understood. My work attempts to identify an unusual peptidase, Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), in shaping the ability of macrophages to mount robust inflammatory response to tumors and infections, as well as to improve their capacity as antigen presenting cells. Thus, we used a myelomonocytic cell specific promoter, c-fms, to drive ACE expression in macrophages, and then challenged these mice in vivo with various infectious and tumor agents. We have identified that ACE enhances production of proinflammatory cytokines, such as nitric oxide, and improves both innate and adaptive immunity. We hope that macrophage specific upregulation of ACE may shed light on peptidases as new unexplored by which macrophages enhance immune responses to potentially life threatening pathogens.

Leadership in MD/PhD Program: Class Representative

Graduation Year: 2013

Residency: Radiation Oncology, Emory University

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