Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Andrea Kasinski
Specific Research Area / Project:
Understanding the effects of altered microRNA biogenesis on gene expression in lung cancer
North Carolina State University
Lab / Personal work-related websites:Kasinski Lab
My research focuses on lung cancer due to its aggressive nature and since it currently causes more deaths per year than any other cancer type. The overall goals of the Kasinski Lab are to understand the biological role of microRNAs (miRNAs) and to ultimately utilize them as cancer therapeutics. miRNAs are small, non-coding RNAs which post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression. miRNAs are responsible for maintaining a normal cellular state and when their expression is altered, a hallmark of many cancer types, the regulation of many genes is lost, contributing to the ability of cancer cells to proliferate and form tumors. My work is specifically focused on understanding if unprocessed miRNAs, miRNAs which have not undergone processing through the canonical miRNA biogenesis pathway, can ultimately contribute to a disease state through altering gene expression separately from fully processed miRNAs. My research is important because it will help to fully understand how altered miRNA biogenesis affects cancer cells and will ultimately contribute to the development of more refined targeted therapeutic design for the treatment of cancer.
In my undergraduate career, my research focused on understanding how marine microalgae could be utilized as a biomass source for biofuel production. Through this experience I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, but I wanted to do research which had an impact on human health and the treatment of human disease. This drove me to the Purdue University Interdisciplinary Life Science Program (PULSe) where I was able to rotate through labs doing research that I previously didn’t have hands-on exposure to in several different disciplines, including medicinal chemistry, biological sciences and chemistry. I was able to find a lab whose work I was passionate about and had an application in advancing the treatment of cancer, which ultimately motives me in my graduate studies.
In my time at Purdue, I have not only had the opportunity to refine my professional scientific acumen, but I have also been able to reach out in the community and expose others to science. My favorite outreach program in PULSe is Science In Schools, where graduate students plan and conduct experiments with students at a local elementary school. Engaging students and seeing them get excited about science has truly been rewarding!
- Purdue University Fellowship Incentive Grant (2014)
- Lynn Fellowship (2013 – 2014)
- Presentation Title: “Uncovering a Novel Role for Unprocessed miRNAs in Modulating Gene Expression”
- Oral Presentation, Internal Joint Lab Seminar, Purdue University, March 2015
- Poster Presentation, Purdue University Cancer Center Retreat, Purdue University, November 2014
- Oral Presentation, Internal Biochemistry Seminar, Purdue University, November 2014
- Lafayette Regional Science Fair Judge (March 2015)
- PULSe Science in Schools Co-Chair (2014 – 2015)
- PULSe First Year Mentoring Chair (2014 – 2015)
- PULSe Science in Schools Volunteer (2013 – Current)