Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)



First Advisor

Jessica Carter


Cell death is an integral biological process that plays a critical role in maintaining tissue homeostasis, regulating immune responses, and eliminating damaged or infected cells. There are several different types of cell death pathways, each with their own intricate pathways and results on the afflicted cells. Investigating the different cell death pathways is essential for understanding how organisms manage their cells and respond to stress in their environment. Not only can cell death be a spontaneous process in response to traumatic events, cell death is often a programmed mechanism of the cell which enables them to survive under stressful conditions. Different organisms utilize cell death for different purposes imperative to their survival, such as regulating cell growth, organ development, or in response to infection. Certain organisms, such as bacteria, are not only capable of programmed cell death for their own proliferation, but are also capable of manipulating these cell death pathways in their infected host cell to serve their own needs. Viruses are unique in that despite not being considered a living organism, they too are capable of manipulating these host cell death pathways as means for their own dissemination.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies the significance that the manipulation of viruses on host cells can have on a global scale. Furthermore, other viral infections, such as influenza and hepatitis A, continue to bring annual and chronic infections that have devastating effects on humans worldwide. A similarity between these infections is the pro-inflammatory response that is initiated by the infection that contributes to organ failure and disease morbidity. Understanding how the interplay between these pro-inflammatory responses and the involvement of cell death pathways could help provide insight into better treatment and prevention strategies, and can even better prepare us for any future pandemics.


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