Hello! My name is Aisha Qazi and I am a second year PhD student in the Graduate Education in Medical Studies (GEMS) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a member of Dr. Ravinder Gill’s lab, we investigate the various roles of intracellular serotonin in intestinal inflammation and gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndromes (IBS). I am particularly interested in elucidating the role of the serotonin transporter (SERT) in gut metabolism and absorption of essential amino acids during intestinal inflammation, as well the contribution from the gut microbiota. In addition, we are interested in the function of epithelial aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in a state of inflammation. In February 2021, I received the Gastrointestinal and Hepatology Research Recognition Award from the American Physiological Society (APS) for our research examining the impact of AhR activation in chronic intestinal inflammation through diet.
My love for science (and the scientific method) stems from childhood when I competed in and won several science fairs. This passion blossomed during my undergraduate career when I joined a cancer research lab using a novel transgenic swine model and was given the opportunity to present my research at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). After my PhD, I aspire to expand my knowledge and skills through post-doctoral fellowships in hopes of continuing in academia. As part of the Chicago Women in STEM, I hope to expand my network, to support my fellow women, and to promote diversity and equity within the scientific community.