The significant role played by mycobacteria in modulating immune responses is well established. Heat killed (HK) preparations of two rapidly-growing mycobacteria, M. vaccae and M. obuense, have been assessed as immunotherapeutic agents in various diseases. However, the nature of host cellular factors regulated by these mycobacterial preparations remains poorly understood. Consequently, the major aims of my thesis are to:
a- Examine the ability of both HK mycobacterial preparations to modulate the expression of immunologically relevant leukocyte (monocytes, neutrophils, dendritic cells) surface receptors and to alter cytokine and chemokine secretion in human whole blood.
b- Evaluate the potential of both HK mycobacterial preparations to induce lymphoproliferative responses in healthy individuals.
c- Assess whether HK M. obuense could induce the differentiation of human monocytes into macrophages and to perform phenotypic and genome-wide surveys of monocytes differentiated into macrophages in the presence of HK M. obuense as compared to M1-like and M2-like macrophages.
I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Following the completion of my undergraduate studies in medical laboratory technology at the University of Balamand, Lebanon, I worked for 2 years as a research assistant at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Later, I obtained my MSc degree in biology from the American University of Beirut whereby my thesis work focused on developing an in vitro model to study bacterial-epithelial cell interaction. In 2012, I was granted the opportunity to start my part-time PhD studies at Kingston University under the supervision of Professor Helmout Modjtahedi. My PhD research work analyzes the immune effects of two heat-killed mycobacterial preparations that are currently being used as immunotherapeutic agents. Currently, I am writing my PhD thesis whereby my viva-voce examination will take place in 2018. I am also a full-time research assistant at the University of Balamand since 2005.
· Karam MC, Semaan Y and Bazzi S (2014). Interleukin-13 exacerbates the disease in BALB/c mice infected with high dose and inhibits Th2/Th1 switch induced resistance in those infected with low dose Leishmania major. Immunology. 143 (S2): 88-89. (2014 Congress of the British Society for Immunology).
· M. Karam M, Samraa EA, Bazzi S, Karam L and Ovieda-Orta E (2011). The effect of native-LDL and oxidized-LDL in altering immune responses in atherosclerotic patients (2011). Immunology. 135 (S1): 128. (2011 Congress of the British Society for Immunology).
· Karam MC, El Kouba J, Bazzi S, Bodman Smith C, Leung L (2010). Interleukin-13 reduces hyperalgesia and the level of interleukin-1b in BALB/c mice infected with Lesihmania major with an upregulation of interleukin-6. Immunology. 131 (S1): 167. (2010 Congress of the British Society for Immunology).