Mentor: Jun Lu, Cancer Program
MicroRNAs are approximately twenty nucleotide long RNA molecules involved in gene silencing. Because of their gene silencing abilities, they are known to be involved in different biological and disease processes. Cancer is one of the major processes that microRNAs have been linked to.
To better understand microRNAs, Dominic and his Broad colleagues decided to study the characteristics of one of the mysterious aspects of microRNAs, their stability. The characteristic of choice that was studied was the half-life. Using a drug called actinonycin-D, they inhibited the transcription of RNA molecules, and studied expression levels of microRNAs in the cell. They used this information to calculate the half-life of microRNAs.
"Working at the Broad Institute for the past six months has been amazing. I have been immersed in the world of a scientist and I love it. By the end of the summer, I had become more knowledgeable about genomics than I was at the beginning. The opportunities you get when participating in this program are great. You get your own responsibilities and your own project. I would definitely recommend it to anybody interested in biology, chemistry, or computer science."
Dominic McDonald, a chemical-biological engineering junior at MIT, analyzed microRNA stability in lymphoma cancer cells.