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Deepshika Ramanan, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School.

“When we think of inheritance, we think of genetics, we think of epigenetics. We don’t really think about inheriting environmental factors or microbial factors.”

Deepshika Ramanan is a posdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, with her work focusing on how non-genetic traits passed from mother to child can influence a person’s immune system.

In June, Ramanan published a study showing that the levels of immunoglobulin A — a protein that binds to microbes in the gut — found in a mouse can reliably be traced back to its mother (and its grandmother, and great-grandmother) through the milk a mother feeds her pups. These immunoglobulin proteins are vital in an animal’s immune system, and can influence another immune cell — a regulatory T cell. Some subtypes of these regulatory T cells are correlated with better responses to certain viruses and bacteria — and analogs of them are found in humans, too.

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