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Biology Professor Collaborates with Alumni on Publications

Jun 06, 2018


Melanie Gubbels BuppRandolph-Macon College Biology Professor Melanie Gubbels Bupp is the author of a recently published book chapter and two scientific review articles.

The book chapter, "Sex and the Aging Immune System," is included in Conn's Handbook of Models for Human Aging, second edition (Elsevier, 2018). Gubbels Bupp co-wrote the chapter with David Gibson '17, a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth School of Medicine. At R-MC, Gibson majored in biology and minored in chemistry.

"This chapter examines different animal models for their use in studying the effect of sex on age-related changes to the immune system," explains Gubbels Bupp. "It is meant as a resource for scientific investigators studying aging."

Gibson was a research student in Gubbels Bupp's lab during his senior year at R-MC. In addition to co-authoring this chapter, Gibson completed a research project examining how malnutrition influences the function of T cells, an important immune cell particularly affected by malnutrition.

"Writing this chapter together was an intensive experience and David rose to the challenge magnificently," says Gubbels Bupp. "Our timeline for the project was tight and David showed a remarkable ability to read and comprehend a large number of scientific articles in a short time frame. Moreover, his writing was well-organized, academically correct, and engaging."

Frontiers in Immunology
Gubbels Bupp wrote one of the review articles, The confluence of sex hormones and aging on immunity, with Sabra Klein '92, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Klein is also a member of R-MC's Board of Trustees. The article was published on April 17, 2018 in Frontiers of Immunology, the top-most cited open-access journal in the field of immunology.

"It was great fun to collaborate with Sabra," says Gubbels Bupp. "We share a passion for understanding how sex hormones influence immunity as well as a great love for R-MC. I hope that we will find other ways to collaborate in the future."

Gubbels Bupp's other article, Androgen-induced immunosuppression, was published on June 4, 2018, also in Frontiers in Immunology.

"The immune systems of men and women function very differently and this has consequences for the clearance of various types of infections, the risk of immunity turning on self (autoimmunity), and cancer," says Gubbels Bupp. "Androgen-induced immunosuppression examines what is known about how male sex hormones (androgens/testosterone) influence the immune system and how this relates to autoimmunity and cancer. The confluence of sex hormones and aging on immunity addresses whether or not aging unfolds differently in men and women with respect to the function of the immune system."

Melanie Gubbels Bupp
Gubbels Bupp teaches Integrative Biology II, Health and Immunity, Immunology, Infectious Disease and Public Health, and Dirt, Immunity, and Cancer. She has also worked with numerous Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) students.

In 2016 Gubbels Bupp published a paper with R-MC students Timothy Thoner '17, Sarah Murphy '15, Kristin Patrick '17, and Regina Edwards '12. The paper, T cell up-regulation of CD127 is associated with reductions in the homeostatic set point of the peripheral T cell pool during malnourishment, was published in Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports.

In 2018 Gubbels Bupp received the United Methodist Church Exemplary Teaching Award, and in 2016 she was presented the Thomas Branch Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Gubbels Bupp, who joined the R-MC faculty in 2009, earned her B.S. from Creighton University and her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.