Katie Heitzman completed her biochemistry capstone in a plant biology lab, where she introduced a serotonin production pathway into Arabidopsis thaliana. The lab focuses on plant immunity, specifically how the SR45 gene regulates plant immune responses. During her four years in the lab, she aided in experiments related to this work. Additionally, Katie spent a semester of her senior year developing and performing experiments to investigate how SR45 regulates the salicylic acid pathway. Her initial work involved hemp, a subclass of Cannabis sativa. She developed a genotyping protocol and tissue culture protocols. In addition to her work in the plant biology lab, Katie was a member of a physical chemistry lab where she modeled different compounds and metal surfaces through theoretical calculations. These calculations help determine how compounds and surfaces will behave.
In keeping with her interest in health care, Katie became licensed as an EMT and worked in a leadership position for her college EMS organization. During her senior year, she worked as a cardiac monitor technician in an ICU. Together her experiences have heightened her interest in the care of complex patients. She plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree upon completing her training.
Katie’s research focuses on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). She is currently working on pathway analysis of rare variants and uses in vitro techniques to examine their effects. This work may better establish the pathogenesis of SLE, particularly in pediatric patients.