MSTP in PhD Training
Program: Molecular Genetics and Genomics
Current advisor: Ting Wang, PhD
Undergraduate university: Columbia University, 2018
Enrollment year: 2018
Transposable Elements Modify the Gene Expression Landscape of Cancer
Accounting for nearly 50% of human genome content, transposable elements (TEs) have long been dismissed as “junk DNA” and overlooked in genomic studies of pathology. However, these remnants of ancient viruses have been demonstrated to provide potent alternative transcription start sites, thereby contributing to abnormal oncogene expression through a process termed onco-exaptation. Analysis of this mechanism of oncogenesis has revealed a striking universality among cancer types, and the ubiquity of TEs throughout the genome suggests a novel lens through which cancer-specific gene expression programs might be interrogated to reveal precision therapeutic targets. Currently, I am studying the contribution of novel splice variants derived from TE derepression across all genes. This research will provide deeper insight into the gene regulatory aberrations that determine the cancer cell phenotype and may provide previously unknown molecular targets in precision cancer therapy.