Anik Banerjee, an MS graduate from MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School who is now pursuing a PhD in the immunology program at the GSBS mentored under Louise McCullough, MD, PhD, and Jennifer Wargo, MD, noticed a discrepancy in post-stroke care and characterization of the neuroimmune landscape for men who have had strokes as opposed to women.
“A multitude of preclinical and clinical studies have shown that post-stroke outcomes—for instance functional recover, post-stroke inflammatory conditions, quality of life, and depression—are worse in women compared with men. However, women remain underrepresented in clinical trials, and females remain underutilized in experimental studies.”
With this information in mind, Banerjee set off to write his own review titled, “Sex-specific immune responses in stroke,” with the help of his advisor, McCullough.
In this review published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke, Banerjee stresses the importance of including both sexes in investigations of ischemic stroke. He advocates for more thorough reporting of the sex and age of animals being used in preclinical research, and recommends future studies should begin including comprehensive documentation of sex-specific comorbidities (e.g., obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.) and social factors (isolation and pre-stroke functional status) that may contribute to stroke incidence and outcomes.
When preparing to write a review, Banerjee suggests compiling all existing literature on your topic to get a feel for any gaps in research. “If you’re lucky, the organization you do now can aid your thesis in the future.”
Banerjee is excited about the prospect of filling in some of the gaps in sex-specific research.
“Publishing our work at the American Heart Association will certainly spark a discussion among stroke/vascular neurologists, cardiologists, and researchers on the bench to address these issues in the field for future pre-clinical studies and clinical trials.”
Banerjee will continue his education at the Graduate School in pursuit of his PhD in immunology, where his research will focus on investigating the gut microbiome in various neuroinflammatory diseases (i.e., immunotherapy-induced cognitive decline, social stress, and brain amyloidosis) as a potential tool for biomarker discovery and intervention.