Shivam Zaver’s dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. Joshua Woodward in the Department of Microbiology addresses innate immunity. DNA is ordinarily located in the nucleus of a cell. DNA can be found outside of the nucleus, however, during a bacterial or viral infection. Once detected where it does not belong, DNA stimulates an interferon-mediated immune response, mediated by a cyclic dinucleotide, which functions as a second messenger. How the cyclic dinucleotide crosses the cell membrane had been unknown. Shivam found that the second messenger is taken up by the cell through a folate transporter. Consequently, inflammation can be inhibited by folate. His discovery explains how some anti-inflammatory medications, such as sulfasalazine and methotrexate, achieve their effect and has implications for developing new forms of immunotherapy for cancer and infectious disease.