Texas A&M researcher named 2022 STAT Madness competitor

64 teams compete in this virtual bracket-style tournament that celebrates the best innovations in biomedical science and medicine from 2021
March 7, 2022

STAT News selected a research project from the Texas A&M University College of Medicine to participate in its sixth-annual STAT Madness competition, a virtual bracket-style tournament that celebrates the best innovations in biomedical science and medicine published in the past year.

Inspired by college basketball’s March Madness, the competition is a bracket filled with 64 research projects from top institutes and universities around the country. People can vote for their favorite of each matchup, and the winners of each will advance to the next round until there is one research team standing.

Koichi Kobayashi, MD, PhD, adjunct professor at the College of Medicine, was selected for his research finding that explains how SARS-CoV-2 can escape from the immune system and replicate in the human body.

The immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that is designed to fight off infection and disease that can cause numerous issues in the human body. Despite the immune system, many individuals are still at risk of being infected with the coronavirus, letting it replicate in the body and further transmitting to other individuals.

Kobayashi and his team found that the SARS-CoV-2 virus carries a suppressive gene, called ORF6, that acts to inhibit human genes in the immune system that is essential for destroying infected cells. Kobayashi and his team’s novel finding could lead to the development of therapies that prevent COVID-19 from proliferating in the human body.

Kobayashi, who holds a joint appointment as a professor at Hokkaido University in Japan, collaborated with Paul de Figueiredo, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology at the College of Medicine, on this research.

There are six total rounds of voting, and the winner of the competition will be announced April 4. To help Kobayashi’s research advance through the bracket, sign up at this link to vote. The first round of voting ends March 7.

— Gracie Blackwell

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