Kiera Clayton, PhD - Principal Investigator
After receiving her Honors BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Toronto, she completed her PhD in Immunology under the supervision of Dr. Mario Ostrowski, working on Tim-3 regulation of immune responses during HIV infection. In 2015, she joined Dr. Bruce Walker’s lab at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, where she showed that HIV-infected macrophages were resistant to killing by CTL and NK cells. In July of 2021, she moved to UMass Chan Medical School’s Department of Pathology to start the lab, focused on macrophages as hide outs for pathogens and methods used by these cells to evade killer immune responses.
Paula Grasberger - Graduate Student
Paula joined the lab in 2022 as a PhD student. After receiving her BSc in Biology from Tufts University, she worked in the lab of Andy Tager at Massachusetts General Hospital studying idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Paula next transitioned to industry and worked in immuno-oncology and targeted oncology at KSQ Therapeutics, before making her way to UMass for her PhD. Her research in the Clayton Lab will focus on identifying and targeting mechanisms of HIV-infected cell resistance to killing by cytotoxic T lymphocytes and NK cells as part of the Martin Delany REACH Collaboratory. When she’s not in the lab, Paula enjoys skiing, climbing, kiteboarding, and competitive sailing. She also likes spending time with her two cats and doing crossword puzzles.
Kylie Sumner - Graduate Student
Kylie joined the lab in 2023 as a PhD student. She received her BS in Biochemistry with a minor in Biology and Biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2021. After graduation, she spent a year in Robert K. Ernst's lab at the University of Maryland Baltimore as a post-baccalaureate fellow. Her work in the Clayton Lab will focus on the mechanism employed by HIV infected macrophages to become resistant to killing by NK cell ADCC. Kylie's hobbies include crochet, video games, and spending time with her pet rats.
Patrick Kao - Postdoctoral Fellow
Patrick completed his undergrad and master education in Taiwan before heading to Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to pursue PhD degree. His research background focuses on immunology, ranging from sterile inflammation to asthma, as well as infectious diseases. For his current project, I’ll be studying the resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected macrophages to NK cell-mediated killing. In his free time, he enjoys playing basketball and watching movies.
Abby Sondrini - Senior Research Associate
Abigail is a Research Associate in the Clayton lab. She recently graduated from UMass Amherst, where she received her BS in microbiology. In her undergraduate, she worked with soil microbes, studying bacterial genomics in Dr. Kristen DeAngelis’ Lab. Abigail is interested in pursuing graduate school and continuing her career in the field of research. Her research in the Clayton lab focuses on characterizing mechanisms through which HIV-infected macrophages evade CTL-mediated killing. Outside of the lab, you can find Abigail spending time with her family and her dog Mavis, exploring skincare, and reading dystopian novels.
Fred Choi - Research Associate
Fred is a Research Associate who joined the Clayton lab in September 2023. He recently graduated from the University of Virginia, receiving his bachelor’s degree in biology and minor in computer sciences. During his time as an undergraduate, he spent a year in Professor Cedric Williams’s lab observing the learning behavior of laboratory rats in detecting target explosive odorants. His work in the Clayton lab will focus on identifying granzyme inhibitors that may be differentially expressed between CD4+ T cells and macrophages as well as assisting Patrick Kao in his research relating to Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected macrophages. In his free time, he likes to play tennis, watch TV/movies, and occasionally cook.
Amanda Modica - UMass Chan PREP Student
Amanda joined the Clayton Lab in the summer of 2023 as a PREP student. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry and Environmental Science in May 2022 from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. As an undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Arianne Bazilio’s lab conducting water chemistry research on a lake drinking water source experiencing hyper-eutrophication issues. During her PREP year in the Clayton Lab, Amanda’s project will investigate HIV accessory proteins and the mechanisms by which they trigger NK cell killing in CD4+ T cells versus macrophages. Amanda’s long term goal is to earn her PhD and continue researching the body’s immune response to infectious diseases. In her free time, Amanda enjoys spending time with her two dogs Riley and Rosey, watching movies, and going on walks.
Join the Clayton Lab! - we are actively recruiting for all positions
Past Lab Members:
WPI Undergraduate (2022-2023)
Research Associate (2022-2023)
Summer Intern (2023)
Summer Intern (2023)