How UC Santa Cruz researchers look at pathogens and immunity before birth

Taylor Cool is a Ph.D student in Biomolecular Engineering Professor Camilla Forsberg's lab. She's studying how pathogens (such as bacteria or viruses) or toxic compounds (like nicotine) during fetal development alter immunity for life. Recently she was funded by the Tobacco-Related Diseases fund for a project that focuses on how nicotine exposure during pregnancy affects the fetus' susceptibility to disease later in life. She's also been focused on a project that looks at how exposure to viruses and bacteria alter a fetus' immune system causing things like asthma later, which is really focused on hygiene hypothesis—the idea that exposure to dirty things early in life really primes your immune system to be more tolerant later in life.