Sherri Christian is studying a process that's integral to the immune system: the development of B cells that produce antibodies - immune cells that attach to and destroy infectious microbes and other harmful agents. Signals from within and outside B cells direct the multi-stage process by which these cells develop. Christian is investigating the nature of these signals and specifically examining the regulation of a protein called beta-catenin. The protein's importance in the development of other cell types suggests it may play a similar developmental role in B cells. Christian hopes that increasing understanding of B cell development will ultimately lead to therapies for prevention of disease, such as cancer, which occurs when the normal process of cell development goes awry.