GPGG Student on Winning Russek Day Achievement Award
Hila Milo Rasouly is the recipient of this year’s 20th annual Russek Student Achievement Award and a student in the Graduate Program for Genetics and Genomics. While working in Prof. Munnich’s Medical Genetic Clinic and Research Unit, she had the opportunity to discover the field of nephrology in genetics with Prof. Corinne Antignac. She has been a student host for the Genome Science Institute (GSI), inviting renowned geneticists to give lectures at GSI seminars and meet with students and faculty at Boston University. Hila was also offered an opportunity to be involved in graduate education development as a student representative in the GMS committee for the development of a revised curriculum for doctoral students (2011- FiBS I: Foundations in Biomedical Sciences). During the summers of her PhD program, she mentored two undergraduate students (GMS SURP program) and a high school student (BU RISE program). Both undergraduate students presented their research at the 2011 and 2012 Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students and one of the SURP program students won a national award for her poster. Hila also enjoyed being a Teacher’s Assistant for the GMS course “Principles of Genetics & Genomics” (GE 701).
Below, she answers a few questions on winning the award and about her goals within the program.
1. Tell us a bit about your research.
The aim of my thesis is to identify a new gene involved in kidney development. My research began with a human syndrome leading to an increased risk for congenital kidney anomalies. Since the role of the gene causing this syndrome (i.e. Zeb2) during kidney development was unknown, we decided to specifically knockout this gene in the kidney and characterize its phenotype.
In the frame of my PhD thesis, I identified a new gene causing glomerulocystic kidney disease: Zeb2. I am now characterizing the embryological defects leading to this phenotype.
2. What would you say sets the Program for Genetics and Genomics apart from other departments?
The program in Genetics and Genomics is special in the sense that it includes faculties from many different fields who share their love for genetics and genomics. For the students, this program is a great place to know people who can give an input in your work from the genetic perspective without the biases linked to the specific field of research. In addition, we are a small group of students so everybody knows everybody and we enjoy a personal attention from the program directors and the faculties.
3. What is the significance of this award to you?
For me, this award is a great combination of having the opportunity to present my work to a broad audience outside my department and the money will enable me to subsidize my traveling to an international meeting outside Boston.