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Ashley Cavnar

Graduate Student, Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology

Kasey Vickers (Thesis)
John Koethe (Clinical)

People living with HIV (PLWH) have been shown to experience negative cardiovascular outcomes, such as atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction, at twice the rate of uninfected individuals. Increased high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels are generally protective against cardiovascular diseases; however, these lipoproteins can become dysfunctional, promoting inflammation and disease. My thesis work is interested in understanding the quality of HDL function and diversity of HDL cargo in PLWH. I intend to investigate sRNA differences, post-transcriptional modifications, and inflammatory mechanisms to identify their relationship to infection status and antiviral therapies. Given Vanderbilt’s collaborative environment, we are working with Dr. Wanjalla, a research physician in HIV and metabolic diseases, to develop our investigation. Understanding drivers of CVD in PLWH relies heavily on clinical involvement to facilitate laboratory research. Strengthening this relationship through knowledge and experience is the fundamental goal of the VPMM. Exposure to clinical settings and understanding medical treatments by participation in this program would be indispensable to the aims of my research.