Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Metabolic impact on epigenetic processes"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2015 - DURI
Research area(s):
Epigenetics, Metabolism
Project Description:
Misregulation of epigenetic processes and gene expression contributes to the formation and aggressiveness of many cancers. The immediate goal of this project is to investigate environmental and nutritional impacts on metabolism and how changes in metabolism modulate epigenetic processes. The long-term goal is to identify ways to prevent cancer, or combat its progression, through altering nutritional intake to maintain a healthy epigenome. In the biochemistry of any living cell, a number of metabolites act as key intermediates or cofactors for proteins that carry out enzymatic reactions. Many of these reactions contribute directly to the cell’s ability to regulate gene expression and the composition of its chromosomes. The student will alter nutritional conditions and metabolic pathways to identify key steps in those pathways that affect levels of metabolic intermediates. The student will test how these changes influence gene expression and epigenetic processes. Once key steps are identified, the student will test directly how changing nutritional intake or the activity of critical proteins can be used to alter flux through metabolic pathways to counteract initiation or promotion of cancer-related phenotypes in cells.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will have their own independent research project and conduct research under the guidance of a graduate student in the laboratory. The intern will learn to manipulate metabolic pathways genetically and biochemically, grow cells under different nutritional conditions and measure gene expression quantitatively. In addition, the intern will learn how to conduct and interpret several kinds of assays, including protein blots, rtPCR, growth-based assays, microscopy, spectroscopy.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
GPA 3.0 general chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus biology or biochemistry coursework Previous experience with laboratory procedures and working with mammalian cell culture and/or yeast preferred
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 2 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Kirchmaier, Ann

Student Supervisor

Faeze Saatchi
Graduate Student

Cooperating Faculty

Chongli Yuan
Chemical Engineering