Kevin Tovar received their undergraduate degree in biology with a biochemistry emphasis from Macalester College in 2023. Kevin plans to continue their academic and research endeavors by pursuing his Ph.D. after his postbaccalaureate fellowship at the NIH.
During their time at Macalester College, Kevin was a member of an immunology lab working with Dr. Devavani Chatterjea and Dr. Elena Tonc. For his honors thesis, Kevin investigated changes mediated by a common preservative, methylisothiazolinone, in the immune activities of murine labial skin fibroblasts in a murine model of vulvodynia. Additionally, they worked with Dr. Thomas Varberg in the Chemistry Department in the molecular spectroscopy lab.
Much of Kevin’s past research focused on the underlying immunological mechanisms behind allergy-induced chronic pain development. He now works under Dr. Tasha Morrison in the Lymphocyte Signaling Unit at the NIAMS. The lab’s current focus is to understand how newly recognized genes, including long non-coding RNAs, regulate the differentiation, activation, and response of natural killer (NK) cells to determine their impact on the innate immune response. Currently, we are studying the importance of glycosphingolipids to signaling cascades required for the development and function of NK cells.