Thursday, October 18, 2018

OSCAR Student Jorge Fernandez Davila Analyzes Mass Genetic Data

As a biology student, I have been wanting to join research to obtain experience in the research force. In December of 2017, I began looking for internships and I came across a couple which I applied for and even though I had a couple recommendation letters from different professors sent in, I was not accepted. I kept looking for internships during the spring semester and in February I received an email that had a research opportunity for GMU undergraduate students analyzing mass genetic data over the summer and it was paid for so I decided to apply. I obtained an interview which I prepared for and I obtained the position.

My long-term goals are to become a biologist and do research as a career. This is my first research opportunity and I see it as a way for me to begin doing more research related to what I want to do. In this research, I am analyzing mass genetic data and using biology software tools which are preparing my computational skills. 

Computing tasks are to be done on a weekly basis, obtaining data, formatting data and analyzing data. The first few weeks we obtained normal data, we searched through NCBI GEO and found about 6 different sets that had patients in gene symbols and a TPM associated with each gene. The TPM is the normalized expression quantity for genes, and the gene symbol is a specific annotation for genes. After obtaining normal data we moved on to downloading our diseased patient data (Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis) and we focused on formatting these files to have it match our normal patient data which includes gene annotations and TPM for each gene. We also used our diseased patient data to make files that included Raw reads with corresponding gene IDs. The point of putting these files together is so that differential gene expression analysis can be done by using coding packages to perform it in specific coding consoles, some required non-normalized data and some required normalized data.

I have discovered several things this term doing research. In terms of working, I have discovered that research is fascinating and unexpected. Unexpected in how things can change at last minute, for example one can discover that the way one was originally doing things will have to be modified or completely changed and having to start over is always frustrating but that’s how research goes. In terms of the research itself, I have discovered many new things that I didn’t know, especially about gene expression and RNA-seq analysis. Spreadsheets have been a daily routine, I have discovered new functions that I did not know about before, and faster ways to manipulate large data sets in spreadsheets.