I am a recent graduate of the University of Rochester with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular genetics. During my time at Rochester, I was able to first be a part of biological research through the Gorbunova-Seluanov lab which specialized in Aging and Cancer. Here, I was able to complete a senior thesis on identifying the intestinal stem cell in the long lived Naked Mole Rat as a regenerative aging model.
During the summer of 2017, I also had the privilege of being a part of the Jackson Laboratory’s Summer Student Program. This gave me this opportunity to work under Dr. Gary Ren, a cancer biologist, and investigate how cancer therapies alter the immune and regenerative responses to cancer growth.
Since graduating, I have chosen to take a post-baccalaureate year of research in Dr. Martin Pera’s lab as an opportunity to expand my understanding of stem cell biology while applying to PhD programs. I am currently investigating how Nodal signaling in the early embryo may drive self-renewal capabilities in pluripotent stem cells.
The University of Rochester
B.S. - Molecular Genetics
Naked mole rat (NMR) is a valuable model for aging and cancer research due to its exceptional longevity and cancer resistance. We observed that the reprogramming efficiency of NMR fibroblasts in response to OSKM was drastically lower than that of mouse fibroblasts. Expression of SV40 LargeT antigen (LT) dramatically improved reprogramming of NMR fibroblasts. Inactivation of Rb alone, but not p53, was sufficient to improve reprogramming efficiency, suggesting that NMR chromatin may be refractory to reprogramming. Analysis of the global histone landscape revealed that NMR had higher levels of repressive H3K27 methylation marks and lower levels of activating H3K27 acetylation marks than mouse. ATAC-seq revealed that in NMR, promoters of reprogramming genes were more closed than mouse promoters, while expression of LT led to massive opening of the NMR promoters. These results suggest that NMR displays a more stable epigenome that resists de-differentiation, contributing to the cancer resistance and longevity of this species.