Kelly is a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Steven Townsend at Vanderbilt University. Her research is focused on the synthesis and biological evaluation of lacto-N-tetraose. Prior to starting her studies at Vanderbilt, Kelly earned her B.S. in Chemistry from Birmingham-Southern College. During her time at Birmingham-Southern, Kelly worked under the guidance of Dr. David Schedler to synthesize a novel inhibitor of Staphyloferrin A biosynthesis. After leaving Vanderbilt, Kelly plans to pursue a career in patent law.
Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Lacto-N-tetraose and Congeners
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a class of complex glycans unique to human breast milk. These carbohydrates offer the infant a wide variety of health benefits including infection prevention and healthy gut development. The biological benefits are, however, dependent on specific HMO structure. Unfortunately, it is difficult to obtain homogenous HMOs from breast milk in quantities sufficient to recreate their concentration in breast milk. Therefore, there is currently an unmet need determining specific HMO structure-activity relationships. To address this need, we first aim to chemically synthesize lacto-N-tetraose (LNT), a core tetrasaccharide common to HMOs. This core structure can then be functionalized to yield additional HMOs. We next propose to determine the ability of LNT and other synthetic HMOs to foster the development of a healthy gut through evaluation of their bifidogenicity.