In 1996, Dr. Gerald Krystal’s lab identified and cloned a protein named SHIP. Janet Kalesnikoff, a doctoral student studying with Krystal, is examining how SHIP regulates mast cell function. Mast cells are activated by a number of different antigens/allergens, which bind to IgE antibodies on the surface of mast cells. IgE-induced mast cell activation results in the release of chemicals (eg. histamine) which are responsible for the common symptoms of allergic reactions such as hay fever and asthma. Studies in Dr. Krystal’s lab have revealed that SHIP negatively regulates the process of mast cell activation. She hopes this research will ultimately increase the understanding of SHIP’s role in mast cell function and reveal way to reduce the symptoms associated with allergic disease.