Eppler Named Dr. Edna O. Hokenson Endowed Fellow

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Haleigh Eppler

Fourth-year Ph.D. student Haleigh Eppler was recently named a recipient of the Dr. Edna O. Hokenson Endowed Fellowship. This fellowship was established in 2003 to support graduate students studying microbiology or immunology in the University of Maryland's College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

Eppler is a biological sciences graduate student with a concentration in molecular and cellular biology. She is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Doctoral Fellow and a member of Fischell Department of Bioengineering Associate Professor Christopher Jewell’s Immune Engineering Lab studying immune tolerance. 

Her research focuses on understanding how immune cells differentiate between self tissue and foreign molecules. Immune cells protect the body's own tissue from damage while degrading dangerous foreign organisms to prevent illness. When the body mistakenly attacks itself as foreign, autoimmune diseases develop. “I use biomaterials to deliver combinations of signals to immune cells to better understand the conditions required to support healthy immune function,” Eppler explains.

“I am excited to receive the Edna Hokenson Endowed Fellowship,” she says. “This fellowship will allow me to conduct research during the summer term that seeks to understand and potentially prevent the processes that contribute to disease – specifically, autoimmune disease. This project provides interesting scientific insight and could one day help those impacted by multiple sclerosis.” 

Jewell and his laboratory group have made large strides in multiple sclerosis immunotherapy research, combining immunology and nanotechnology to reprogram how the immune system responds to self-cells in the brain that are mistakenly attacked by the disease. In 2018, Jewell was awarded a $1.4 million NIH R01 grant for novel multiple sclerosis research. 

Published May 8, 2020