Christa Heyward

I am originally from Elmira, NY, just a short distance from Cornell, but have been living in Pennsylvania since attending Villanova University, where I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2002. I completed a Master’s of Science, at Duquesne University, under the mentorship of John S. Doctor in 2004, where I invested the role of surface topography on the attachment, proliferation, and differentiation of human adult mesenchymal stem cells in vitro. In 2011, I received my Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania for my work with Robert P. Ricciardi. I found that adenovirus-transformed cells escape Natural Killer (NK) cell surveillance by suppressing ligands necessary for NK cell activation. After defending my dissertation, I worked as an Editorial Assistant for Dr. Steven D. Douglas at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where I aided in the preparation of manuscripts and grants related to his research on the role of innate immunity in the establishment of an HIV reservoir in the central nervous system. I am excited about returning to basic research and joining the Davisson Lab where I will investigate the immune contribution to the development of preeclampsia using the BPH/5 mouse model.