As part of SAI’s Boston Bangalore Biosciences Beginnings (B4) Program, five postdoctoral fellows from India will spend a year at Harvard working in a science lab under the mentorship of a Harvard faculty member. The fellows have range of specialties, including plant physiology, computational biology, evolutionary cell biology, and molecular genetics.
The program is supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and Department of Information Technology & Biotechnology and Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka. It is facilitated with Harvard Global Research Support Centre India.
Meet the fellows:
Home institution: Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Field/specialization: PhD in Computational Biology
Harvard faculty mentor: Prof. Martha Bulyk (Harvard Medical School)
An overview of the research you will conduct at Harvard: I have begun to work on structural basis of DNA-binding specificity of transcription factors. In simple terms, the study aims to understand and analyze: a) rules that aid interactions between DNA and certain biomolecules known as transcription factors (that “activate” a gene); and b) rules (mutations) that could potentially damage such interactions. The inferences from such a study are valuable in directing experiments on genetic diseases in human and cancer research.
What are you most excited about for your year at Harvard? Exchanging ideas and having healthy discussions with pioneers and experts in science.
Home institution: Department of Crop Physiology, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore
Field/specialization: Plant Abiotic Stress Physiology/ Molecular and Cell Biology
Harvard faculty mentor: Professor Philippe Cluzel, MCB
An overview of the research you will conduct at Harvard: My role in the entire research interests of Philippe Cluzel’s group is to extend the principal idea of optimization of gene/protein expression levels in eukaryotic system, starting with yeast as model system and then extending further to plant/ mammalian system based on the progress/ success. At present, I am involved in the bacterial research part to fine tune and taper the ongoing experiment, meanwhile gearing up with all the logistics for the yeast experiments.
What are you most excited about for your year at Harvard? This fellowship is actually the best thing that could have happened to me to fulfill my dream of doing a good postdoctoral fellowship in a reputed lab, which would add value to my credentials. This opportunity gives me the capacity to equip myself with new and diverse skill sets and technical knowledge so as to gain confidence while designing to set up and establish my own research group once when I am back to India. I am excited about the enriching experience that will give me the opportunity to learn new aspects of scientific research.
Home institution: National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru
Field/specialization: Evolutionary cell biology
Harvard faculty mentor: Prof. Michael Desai
An overview of the research you will conduct at Harvard: I will be working on experimental evolution of yeast populations as it adapts to nutritional stress. Allele frequencies will be monitored over the period of adaptation thereby providing a window into evolution in real time. This will enable us to ascertain the role of different evolutionary processes towards the final adaptation.
What are you most excited about for your year at Harvard? I am very excited that I will be working alongside leading scientists and be exposed to the culture of one of the world’s oldest universities. I also look forward to experiencing America first hand.
Home Institution: inStem, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Previous Institute – Indian Institute of Science.
Field/Specialization: Computational Biology
Harvard faculty mentor: Prof. Sean Eddy, Ellmore C. Patterson Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and of Applied Mathematics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. (https://www.mcb.harvard.edu/directory/sean-eddy/)
An overview of the research you will conduct at Harvard: Gene expression in an organism is driven by a variety of RNA processing events. These include 5′; capping, 3′; polyadenylation and RNA splicing reactions. RNA editing is one post-transcriptional process that involves insertion, deletion, modification or substitution of single nucleotide or a stretch of nucleotides on RNA. These modifications result in production of transcripts that differ in their primary sequence from the corresponding genomic template. I will be working on deciphering the `cis elements` that guides this process of RNA-editing.
What are you most excited about for your year at Harvard?
The research environment at Harvard is intellectually stimulating. I would like to discuss research with as many people as possible and gain new perspectives. I will be exploring lot of avenues for handling, analysis and interpretation of high-throughput next-gen sequencing data. Looking forward towards a collaborative and productive stay at Harvard for a year.