2017 Summer Scholars

Jennifer HuhJai Eun (Jennifer) Huh

Class of 2020
Mentor: Ashley Chi
Major: Biology

The Chi lab seeks to understand special components linked with cysteine-deprived death in tumor cells. My project focuses on ferroptosis (an iron-dependent form of regulated necrosis) and DDR2 gene that is believed to activate this cellular pathway in tumor cells. The Chi lab previously found that overexpression of DDR2 is linked to ferroptosis in secondary tumor cells, suggesting the possibility of bypassing the tumor-resistant pathway. This summer, I’ll use genetic techniques such as site-directed mutagenesis, gateway cloning, q-PCR etc. to upregulate DDR2 in primary breast cancer cell and to observe the effect in hopes of elucidating the mechanism behind DDR2 and ferroptosis.


Ashish VankaraAshish Vankara

Class of 2019
Mentor: Charlie Gersbach
Major: Biomedical Engineering

Developing a method to efficiently derive satellite cells and myocytes from human iPSCs can be very useful in a laboratory context. For my project this summer, I’m working on reviewing different differentiation protocols to find an optimal method to induce the paraxial mesoderm lineage and eventually derive dorsal somites and skeletal muscle cells via CRIPSR/Cas9 based transcriptional activators. These activators will be delivered to the cells via adenovirus that I will generate in lab.

   


Ammara AqeelAmmara Aqeel

Class of 2019
Mentor: Deepak Voora
Major: Biology

Platelet malfunctions can lead to problems such as thrombosis and consequent blockages in blood flow. Antiplatelet therapy employed against such conditions shows variation in efficacy across individuals. Our project lies in the field of precision medicine and aims to develop a prognostic test for whole blood that can predict patient response likelihood to antiplatelet therapy. This will involve translating RNA transcripts suspected to be associated with platelet function to whole blood by measuring their expression using PCR assays. This will remove reliance on platelet RNA which is both expensive and hard to obtain in large quantities and thus, allow for a feasible testing mechanism that can be incorporated into routine practice.


Jeffrey GuJeffrey Gu

Class of 2020
Mentor: Ornit Chiba-Falek
Major: Neuroscience

The Chiba-Falek lab studies the mechanisms and structural variants of the SNCA gene, which has been associated with synucleinopathies such as Parkinson’s Disease and dementia with Lewy Bodies. My project centers around using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology to alter a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) that is highly associated with Parkinson’s Disease. The risk allele alters the binding sites of one miRNA. By changing the SNP from a mutant (pathogenic) to a normal genotype, we hope to see increased levels of binding of miRNA to SNCA mRNA and therefore decreased levels of SNCA gene expression. Another facet of my project involves profiling the DNA methylation patterns of both the normal wild-type SNCA gene and the pathogenic triplicated-SNCA gene, with a focus on Intron 1 and Exon 1 of the gene. Both approaches will use induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and iPSC-derived neurons as the model system. Through the work done in the Chiba-Falek lab, we hope to gain a greater understanding of the SNCA gene regulation and possibly develop strategies to safely regulate SNCA gene expression.


Christopher LinChristopher Lin

Class of 2019
Mentor: Xiling Shen
Major: Computational Sciences

Cancer models are essential in developing and evaluating treatments. However, there are many ways to create a model cancer system, which may or may not accurately reflect actual tumor behavior. To address this, my project will involve analysis of single-cell RNA-seq data from xenograft and organoid models as well as patient tissue samples to evaluate the efficacy of these models. Using various computational techniques, the goal of my project is to identify subpopulations of cells based on gene expression, and use their composition to compare these cancer models.

 


Austin ZhangAustin Zhang

Class of 2020
Mentor: Ashley Chi
Major: Biology and Computational Sciences

Identifying proteins requires running collected mass spectrometry data through databases. Different search tools yield different results due to the differences in each tool's search algorithm/process. We aim to evaluate search efficacy by evaluating different search tools.