Current Role at Stanford

I am currently working as a Clinical Research Assistant in Dr. Palesh's research team in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. I am also working on a need-based basis in Dr. Dhabhar's Lab while completing the experiments and analysis needed to publish my Honors Thesis in an immunological journal.

Honors & Awards

  • UAR Major Grant, Stanford University (2010-2011)
  • Charles & Helen Schwab Scholarship, Stanford University (2007-2011)

Education & Certifications

  • B.S. with Honors, Stanford University, Biology (2011)


  • Effects of 5HT on Cellular and Cytokine Activation Profiles during Ex Vivo Stimulation of Human Leukocytes, Stanford University (3/1/2010 - 6/19/2011)

    Serotonin (5HT) is primarily known as a neurotransmitter but has recently been thought to be a modulator of the immune system. This potential function of 5HT outside the brain merits further investigation. During inflammation, this function becomes more apparent, with literature reporting that 5HT serves both as an immunostimulant during the early stage of inflammation, and immunosuppressant during the late stage. This series of experiments sought to examine the immuno-regulatory effects of 5HT, which may be important for preventing an immune response from going into a chronic inflammatory mode. The presence of physiological concentrations of 5HT (100-400ng/mL) during leukocyte activation by Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), Phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), or Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) resulted in the down-regulation of both the Th1 and Th2 immune responses, as quantified by decreases in IFN-γ/IL-10 and IL-4/IL-10 ratios respectively. Furthermore, 5HT induced the down-regulation of CCR2 expression on both monocytes and neutrophils during activation with LPS. These findings underline the anti-inflammatory properties of 5HT, suggesting a potentially important role for preventing chronic inflammation and providing potential foundation for using 5HT-based drugs to treat inflammatory disorders.


    300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305


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Service, Volunteer and Community Work

  • Hospital Volunteer, Stanford Hospital (6/1/2009 - 12/31/2010)

    Shadowed a radiologist for his daily reads of CT and ultrasound scans. Assisted him with technical support and daily activities to alleviate his physical handicaps.


    Stanford Hospital, Stanford, CA 94305

  • Volunteer Interpreter, Pacific Free Clinic (3/1/2008 - 7/1/2008)

    Direct Vietnamese-English translation of clinical diagnosis between doctor and patient. Managed patients’ records and appointments.


    San Jose, CA


Professional Interests

I am currently interested in the link between psychological behaviors and symptoms and physiological externalization of these factors. From my research experience with Dr. Dhabhar and Dr. Palesh, there seems to be a tight link between the mental state of patients and how their bodies react to treatment or illness. For example, serotonin, a neurotransmitter correlating with happiness, has been shown to effectively augment a proper inflammatory response by the immune system, possibly through interacting with cytokine and chemokine expressions. In helping research ways to improve mood, sleep, and other psychological symptoms experienced by patients, I hope to discover ways to improve the quality of life of patients as they undergo treatment, and consequently alleviate their illness through this healthier state of mind.

Work Experience

  • Clinical Research Assistant, Stanford University (5/1/2011)

    Organized and assisted in coordinating research studies focusing on alleviating sleep disruption in breast cancer patients. Recruited and screened patients for the studies and managed the databases containing patients’ information.


    401 Quarry Road, Stanford, CA 94305

  • SAT Teacher/Tutor, Kaplan Inc. (10/22/2011)


    Redwood City, CA

  • Personal Tutor, Thrive Tutors (9/15/2011)


    Redwood City, CA

  • Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dr. Dhabhar's Lab, Stanford University (8/1/2008)

    Compiled and evaluated research data. Conducted human blood assays and mouse animal models for analyzing different effects between acute stress and chronic stress on immunological systems. Finished an Honors Thesis on the immunoregulatory effect of 5HT.


    300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305



  • Effects of 5HT on Cellular and Cytokine Activation Profiles during Ex Vivo Stimulation of Human Leukocytes Jean Tillie, Firdaus Dhabhar

    The symposium was held for Biology students who completed an Honors Thesis project. The event was open to the public, and students stood alongside their posters and presented their projects as approached.

    Time Period

    5/20/2011 - 5/20/2011

    Presented To

    Biology Achauer Honors Symposium


    Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305


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