University of Arizona Doctoral Student Alicia Bolt Receives First Place Award at Society of Toxicology’s Annual Meeting

Alicia Bolt (advisor, SRP PI, Walt Klimecki) took first place in the Metals Specialty Section Graduate Student Research Award for her project “Autophagy: A Key Mechanism in Arsenite-Induced Cytotoxicity in Human Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines.” These studies were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Toxicology in Salt Lake City.  There is always stiff competition for this award and this is quite an honor for her.

Alicia is a 4th year graduate student working on a toxicogenomics research project in Dr. Klimecki’s laboratory.  In the lab, Alicia has focused on the susceptibility of individuals to arsenicals-induced toxicity.  Dr. Klimecki has been a pioneer in establishing that genetics determine how a person processes ingested arsenic and determines their susceptibility to the multitude of toxicities that arsenic can induce.  Alicia and Dr. Klimecki furthered these studies by examining the processing and toxicity of arsenic in lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from numerous individuals.  While performing these studies, Alicia noted that the mechanism of cell death initiated by arsenic in the lymphoblastoid cells was “different” and was not a classic necrosis or apoptosis process.  This led to her discovery that autophagy is the predominant process induced by the arsenic exposure.  This finding was the foundation of her recent publication in Toxicological and Applied Pharmacology.  As Bolt explains, “Arsenic can target the human immune system and we were looking at what makes individuals more or less susceptible to arsenic-induced immunotoxicity.”

Please join the UA SRP in congratulating Alicia.