Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut
Dissertation Project: Elucidating Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Direct Cardiac Reprogramming
As an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut, I worked in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Giardina in the department of Molecular and Cell Biology, and was co-mentored by Dr. Lawrence Hightower. My research focused on the ability of hyperbaric oxygen preconditioning to protect cutaneous and hepatic tissue from the effects of chronic oxidative stress.
I began my graduate work at UNC in the Fall of 2012. I completed my first rotation in the laboratory of Dr. Yue Xiong, during which I assessed the physical interaction between the oncoprotein survivin and the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cul9. I then rotated in the laboratory of Dr. Scott Randell, where I utilized conditional cell reprogramming techniques to study proliferation and differentiation in primary human bronchial epithelial cells. I completed my final rotation with Dr. Li Qian in the department of Pathology, and joined her laboratory in the Spring of 2013.
Broadly, the Qian lab is interested in direct cardiac reprogramming, a procedure in which cardiac fibroblasts are converted to cardiomyocyte-like cells without first passing through a stem-like state. Although this technique has clear clinical relevance, the mechanisms underlying direct cardiac reprogramming have yet to be elucidated. Therefore, my research seeks to identify the mechanisms that underlie the reprogramming process in order to help to enhance reprogramming efficiency, as well as to improve the clinical feasibility of cell reprogramming for cardiac disease.