On Nov 25th, 2019, all current GPGG students were able to make it out for a day trip to explore the human body at Boston’s own Museum of Science BodyWorlds Exhibit. The students got to see a variety of systems up close and personal while enjoying the science in an interactive space. This was a great opportunity for students to observe how genetics and genomics affect the body in a ‘big picture’ setting while also getting a refresher of how the human body works outside of their focused area of research.
The Graduate Program in Genetics & Genomics is proud to have 2 students successfully defend their thesis in the month of November 2019! A huge congratulations goes to both of them and the GPGG wishes them the best of luck on their job hunt!
Barry K. Horne Jr successfully defended his dissertation thesis “The Roles of Interferon Regulatory Factor 5 and Interleukin-1 Receptor-Associated Kinase 4 in Lupus Pathogenesis” on Nov 18, 2019. Barry was a member of the Bonegio laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), and during his third and fourth years at BUSM he also completed a two year academic “Immunology Training Program” (ITP) Predoctoral Fellowship. Barry’s doctoral research focused on the contributions of two suspect genes to the pathogenesis of the autoimmune disease Lupus.
Barry is passionate about science in general, and he greatly enjoys teaching, advocacy, and policy. His long-term goal is to take the scientific knowledge, critical thinking abilities, and multiple communication skills that he acquired while working on his PhD and translate them into a career in either education, politics / science policy, scientific public outreach, or science advocacy.
BU Profile: https://profiles.bu.edu/Barry.Horne
ORCID ID: 0000-0003-2770-6719
Jiayi Wu Cox presented on “Genetic and Environmental Prediction of Opioid Cessation Using Machine Learning, GWAS, and a Mouse Model” on Nov 22, 2019.
Jiayi Cox defended her thesis titled “Genetic and Environmental Prediction of Opioid Cessation Using Machine Learning, GWAS, and a Mouse Model” on Nov 22, 2019, after 4 years of her Ph. D research. Jiayi was a founder of BU MED Campus Biomedical Machine Learning Community and the student representative of the section of Biomedical Genetics at Boston University. She received a full scholarship from Transformative Training Program in Addiction Science (TTPAS), this program prepares doctoral students to apply diverse approaches to addiction research using both population genetics and animal model. Jiayi did two internships doing her doctoral research, one at Biogen as a statistical geneticist intern and one at an MIT startup as a machine learning engineer intern.
Jiayi loves exploring different machine learning approaches and analyzing various data to tell stories. She currently works at Kintai Therapeutics as a machine learning scientist.
The Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics had a wonderful kickoff to summer with a group outing to Trapology in downtown Boston, which is a local Escape Room with various storylines. Utilizing real analytical thinking, the group was able to successfully escape the room with 7 minutes and 10 seconds to spare in a storyline that had only a 25% success rate! It was an extra special social activity due to the fact it was the first outing to include our newest GPGG students - Megan Snyder and Taylor Matte! A warm welcome to these new students and we are looking forward to more fun in the future at our next group activity.
On 6/3/2019, the GPGG students were able to grab lunch with a 2016 alum of the GPGG program, Akshaya Ramesh! She was able to pass on some words of wisdom about applying to postdoc positions, the importance of networking, and life after a PhD. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us and we hope to connect with more alumni to continuously inspire passion and creativity amongst current and prospective GPGG students!
Our very own Dana Lau Corona was presented with the First Place Award at the 2015 Annual Russek Day Ceremony. She presented her talk, “Epigenetic Analysis Of Temporal Changes In Continuous Growth Hormone Responsive Sex Biased Genes In Male Mouse Liver” on May 1st, 2015.
Other winners from the Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics include Akshaya Ramesh, who was awarded Second Prize for her research “Macaque Immunogenetics Through De Novo Genome Assemblies” as well as Keri Dame, who received an Honorable Mention for research in “Lung/Thyroid Conversion Of Mouse ESC-Derived Anterior Foregut Through Transient Over Expression of NKX2-1”.
Congratulations to these students on their success!
Join us in congratulating Rebecca Kusko for completing her PhD thesis this September in Avrum Spira and Marc Lenbrug's lab. Her thesis leveraged RNA sequencing and integrative network analysis to identify therapeutic targets in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Emphysema, and Lung Adenocarcinoma in lifetime never smokers. After finishing her work in the Spira/Lenburg lab, she was hired as the Director of Genomics at Immuneering in Kendall Square. At Immuneering, she partners with leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies to use genomic, genetic, and transcriptomic information to predict patient response to compounds.
Two students from the Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics, Dana Lau Corona and Akshaya Ramesh, received the oral presentation award at the 2014 Annual Genome Science Institute Symposium. Their research was presented on November 5th.
Dana Lau Corona - Epigenetic Regulation of Growth Hormone-Responsive Sex-Biased Genes in Mouse Liver
Akshaya Ramesh - Macaque Immunogenetics Through De-Novo Genome Assemblies
We would also like to congratulate Andrew Hoss for receiving the Poster Presentation award for his research, miR-10b-5p expression in Huntington's disease brain relates to age of onset
and the extent of striatal involvement.
Congratulations Dana, Akshaya, and Andrew! Keep up the great work!
Akshaya Ramesh, of the Kepler Lab and a student in the Genetics and Genomics Program, won the 2014 Duke CHAVI-ID Pre-Doctoral Student Award at the Third Annual Duke CHAVI-ID Retreat and Meeting, as well as an award for her poster presentation, “Macaque Immunogentics via ten Multi-resolution de-novo Genome Assemblies.”
One of the primary interests in the Kepler Lab is understanding the antibody (Immunoglobulin/Ig) repertoire dynamics of individuals after vaccination to better understand the process of antibody formation and affinity maturation. The lab is part of CHAVI-ID (Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology and Immunogen Discovery (CHAVI-ID), which is a multi-institutional collaboration under the Global HIV vaccine enterprise whose primary goal is to design a practical preventive HIV-1 vaccine. The Duke CHAVI-ID meeting was held in Durham, NC this year and they presented their findings at this conference on September 29th, 2014. In addition to being awarded a prize for her poster presentation, Akshaya was awarded the CHAVI-ID Pre-Doctoral Student Award 2014 for her contribution towards HIV/AIDS vaccine research.
The Genetics Program would like to extend its warmest congratulations to Akshaya Ramesh on this important and well-deserved recognition of her thesis work.
Below is a summary of her research:
Over the last few years, high throughput sequencing of the Ig repertoire from infected human subjects as well as immunized Rhesus macaques has led to important insights into understanding the humoral response to HIV-1 and the development of vaccines against HIV-1. Further elucidation of the antibody response in these crucial animal studies will require substantially greater power to analyze the Ig repertoires than is currently possible; reliable information on macaque Ig genes is unavailable due to the incompleteness of the existing macaque Ig sequence data and the inherent difficulty of obtaining complete Ig genomic sequences. As part of her thesis project, Akshaya is working on generating one, complete whole genome sequence (WGS) of the Rhesus macaque and Ig loci sequence information from ten additional monkeys. Her research will make it possible to develop a carefully curated database of macaque Ig gene required to analyze macaque repertoire data fully and the annotated, WGS of the Rhesus macaque will have significant evolutionary and biomedical impact considering that they are extensively used animal models in research.
For more information, please visit http://chavi-id-duke.org/duke-chavi-id-awardees-2014 and http://chavi-id-duke.org/announcements/duke-chavi-id-3rd-annual-meeting
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.
PhD Candidate, Andy Hoss Publishes in PLOS Genetics
The Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics (GPGG) at the Boston University School of Medicine has a history of attracting successful students who go on to make significant contributions to the field. We thought we’d take an opportunity to sit down with one student - in light of his most recent academic success - to ask about what makes him tick.
1. What made you choose GPGG?
I worked at the Broad Institute of MIT in the genomics platform for some time before deciding to work towards a doctoral degree. While I was there, I started off in the core facility. Here, our group was tasked to sequence large mammalian genomes using Sanger sequencing, the same technology used to sequence the human genome. These projects required enormous expensive, support, and automated laboratory equipment. The human genome cost something like $3B. The year following my start date, I witnessed the rapid transition from large scale Sanger Sequencing to next generation sequencing technologies. In the next years, the cost of a large genome dropped to $10K. I observed first hand what could be done, leveraging these amazing technological advances to advance genomics.
2. Tell us a little about your research in the program.
In the Myers lab, we study the genetics of neurodegenerative diseases, in particular, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease. For my dissertation project, I’m comparing the gene expression patterns of diseased and non-diseased human brain using next-generation sequencing of large and small RNAs, to attempt to understand the molecular mechanisms that may be involved in Huntington's disease pathology and progression.
3. You recently published in PLOS Genetics. Tell us a little about your article?
Huntington’s disease is an inherited fatal neurological disorder that commonly affects people in midlife. Past studies have implicated abnormal patterns gene expression as a candidate for causing the death of the brain cells affected in HD. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small molecules that regulate and usually reduce the expression of genes. We measured the levels of miRNAs, as well as the levels of gene expression (mRNAs) in twelve HD and nine control brain samples. We found five miRNAs that were greatly increased in their expression in the HD brains, including three that were not expressed at all in the normal samples. Four of these were related to important characteristics of the disease expression, including the age at disease onset, and the age at death of the individual. We examined which genes these miRNAs target for regulation and many of these were also altered in their expression in the HD samples. Surprisingly, most of these had increased expression. One of the miRNAs, miR- 196a-5p was previously implicated in enhancing the survival of brain cells in HD, and it may be that other miRNAs that we identified may also promote neuron survival and may hold new clues for treatments in HD.
4. Now that you’ve successfully published this research, do you have plans for another project(s)?
Since the study was published, we’ve double our study size, which has allowed us the power to observe many more genes that are altered in expression in HD brain. In the next months, we will attempt explain the functional relevance of these genetic changes using HD cellular models.
5. What would you say to any students looking to apply to the Graduate Program for Genetics and Genomics (GPGG)?
In my experience in GPGG, I’ve had the opportunity to learn statistical genetics, bioinformatics and cell biology. It’s been comprehensive and extremely useful in my research. Also, being on the medical campus, you have the ability to perform translational studies and direct contact with the clinic, if that’s what you want.
6. What’s your favorite part of being a BU student?
I’ve found the BU community to be extremely collaborative. It’s filled with pretty much any resource you’re looking for. The quality of the seminars has been fantastic. The school is very urban. And I love Boston!
Andy's publication can be found here: http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1004188