Andover High School
Andover, MA

Kevin Dong, Vivian Hecht, and Noam Shoresh
Epigenomics Program

In order to better understand disease, biologists must conduct experiments on cells; however, harvesting tissue directly from patients is extremely invasive and expensive.  For this reason, lab-grown cell lines made from stem cells can be an extraordinarily valuable research tool.  These cell lines do not have any inherent transferability to real therapeutic treatments on real patients until it is established that the cell lines behave similarly to real tissue samples. In particular, it is not enough to know whether or not the genomes of these cell types are similar; rather, care must be taken to ensure that the epigenomes of these cell types are similar. Puloma worked closely with her partner Viggy to develop a method to visualize correlations between histone modification sequencing data in neuronal stem cells and brain and tibial nerve tissue.  Puloma found strong correlations between certain tissues and the new proposed cell line, meaning that this research tool is one step closer to being able to be used to test therapeutic treatments for neurodegenerative disease.

When asked about her favorite part about being a Broadie, Puloma emphatically replied, “The people! Everyone is so welcoming, ready to help with anything, and is truly one of the most diverse places in science I’ve ever seen.”  Puloma was extremely excited to see how diverse everyone at the Broad is: “Being able to see all backgrounds represented in STEM is necessary because without it, we can’t make progress to help the world. The Broad Institute embodies the spirit of making science a place where everyone has a say, no matter where they come from, and that means I get to meet some of the most incredible people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”