The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
I began my postdoctoral studies in Dr. Scott Harper’s lab in May 2013. My thesis project was aimed at investigating the essential protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions of HIV integration co-factors in order to study the role of cellular proteins in regulating HIV integration with the ultimate goal of discovering novel antiviral therapeutic strategies. During this time, I elucidated biochemical and physical details of the binding mechanism of an essential HIV integration cofactor, LEDGF/p75, and host chromatin, that highlighted the importance of a particular histone post-translational modification (PTM) for HIV integration into actively transcribed genomic regions. Also during this time, I developed a strong interest in using the skills I mastered during my graduate studies to pursue a career in translational research to study dominant muscular dystrophies like Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) with the ultimate goal of becoming a research faculty member. FSHD is a complex disease that varies in severity and muscles are often asymmetrically affected. After joining the Harper Lab and familiarizing myself with FSHD research, my interest in PTMs of DUX4 potentially required for inducing the complex phenotype associated with FSHD grew. My graduate career and postdoctoral training have provided me with experience and skills necessary to define PTMs of DUX4 and elucidate the role of DUX4 modifying enzymes in FSHD pathogenesis.