I will use Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALEN) -mediated mutagenesis to determine the function of the RNA-binding protein tra2b and its role in alternative splicing during Xenopus tropicalis development. TALENs or Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases, are artificial restriction enzymes that create double stranded breaks, inducing mutations in targeted loci. They can be engineered to target any DNA sequence and cause permanent changes in the genome. Alternative splicing and pre-mRNA processing is an important target for regulation of eukaryotic gene expression, which is what I am interested in studying.
My project focuses on the role of Coptic Christians in the ongoing Egyptian Revolution. Coptic Christians have a long history within the nation as the indigenous population, believed to have descended from the pharaohs themselves. The population has been largely marginalized in recent decades and prone to attacks of sectarian violence. This trend has been exacerbated since the January 25th Revolution of 2011. Through my research I hope to answer and clarify questions regarding the role of the Coptic Church members and clergy in the Revolution.
In the Raulet lab, we are interested in studying the ability of a subset of innate lymphocytes called Natural Killer (NK) cells to respond to stimulation (responsiveness). NK cell responsiveness mainly depends on their ability to engage with a family of proteins called Major Histocompatability Complex Class I (MHC-I) molecules commonly expressed throughout the body. However, whether a particular cell type is responsible for setting the levels of NK cell responsiveness is still outstanding. During the summer, I will develop part of a bigger project aimed in identifying the cellular component important for tuning the responsiveness of NK cells particularly focusing on the role of MHC-I on non-hematopoietic cells (nHCs). Once we establish the cellular type involved in tuning NK cell responsiveness, we could be able to modulate NK responsiveness towards hyper- and hypo-responsivity, to be applied in cancer therapies or for the improvement of graft rejection.
This research project studies the impact of imprisonment on men living in occupied territories in the Middle East. First, I will assess the systematic incarceration of male children in the Middle East. Second, I will study the current employed and education levels of men who were incarcerated in their youth. Finally I will investigate the family dynamics and shifting gender roles within the nuclear families of youth who were imprisoned. This project seeks to address the importance of maintaining children rights in processes of incarceration and after release, while shedding light on the systematic impediments youth incarceration creates on the development of households.
Quantitative portable medical diagnostics devices have the potential to transform medicine by providing a range of analytics that cannot be provided by classical binary readout assays. We are developing a next-generation portable clinical diagnostic device with low-power consumption that produces digitized data. To accomplish this we will utilize a detection method called, capacitively coupled contactless conductivity detection (C4D), with microfluidic electrophoresis for detection in a low-power compact cheap plastic microchip. C4D directly detects ions using two external electrodes via capacitive coupling between the electrode and the solution in the microchannel. By passing a high frequency sinusoid through one electrode and picking up the signal with a second electrode, the conductivity of the solution between the electrodes is monitored and the presence of specific ions can be determined. This detection method will be optimized for detecting biomarkers associated with diseases critical to humanitarian efforts, such as HIV and malaria.
Sorghum is an important staple crop in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa as it feeds millions of the poorest people in these regions. It provides some degree of nutritional content for humans, but is considered an inferior grain because of its significantly lowered protein digestion. Since sorghum is being consumed in populations where undernourishment is of concern, it is extremely important to consider the accessibility of its nutritional content.