Friday, March 27, 2015

URSP Student Soyeon An Researches How Infected Cells Activate Apoptosis

Hello, I am Soyeon An.  I am a senior majoring in biology and have been working at the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases since May, 2013. I have been studying how to treat the spread of emerging viruses including the Rift Valley Fever Virus and the Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus.  Our lab is researching how infected cells activate the cell-death mechanism known as apoptosis.
Our lab has regular meetings in which we share our latest research progress and to discuss journal articles that are relevant to our projects.  After hearing on my lab mates discuss their research, I developed my interested in how small non-coding RNA regulates gene expression.  I followed up with an experiment that used small noncoding RNA to inhibit a target gene and observed the effects on viral replication.  I wanted to understand how the host miRNA expression changes as a result of viral infection.  By better understanding miRNA regulation, we may be able to develop therapeutic methods to combat viruses.
I work in the lab two days of week.  The first thing I do is cell maintenance.  Since every experiment starts with growing of cells, I want to make sure that they are in good condition and ready for use.  I also support my lab mates with their research while my experiments are processing.
I have conducted q-RT PCR on four different miRNAs to verify DNA sequence data that was obtained from VEEV infected host cells.  Now I am going to research journal articles to learn more about the role of target miRNAs.  I will either use their methodology or apply similar concepts to my research to identify the function of miRNA in viral replication.
Ultimately I am planning to pursue a PhD after graduation.  I was recently accepted into the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a two-year post baccalaureate research fellowship.  I will be working on germline specific small non coding RNA (piRNA) pathway and PIWI protein.  My current OSCAR project helped me prepare for the NIH program.