Six months ago I began to consider how I would spend my first summer away from my home in New Hampshire. This summer with the help of the University of Connecticut dental faculty, I developed a flexible schedule that enabled me to pursue two loves—service and academia.
For eight weeks, I have worked in Dr. Anne Delany’s lab in the Center for Molecular Medicine. Dr. Delany’s lab studies micro-RNA (miRNA). Micro-RNA are regulators of gene expression and have been implicated in disease pathogenesis such as osteoporosis and osteopetrosis. Specifically, I have been studying miR29 using osteoclasts, the bone resorbing cells of the body, as a model. We use bioinformatics analyses to investigate whether miR29 binds to the four target genes we are studying. The goal of this summer’s project is to characterize these potential genetic targets of micro RNA and contribute to the current research being conducted in this emerging field. I express sincere gratitude to those individuals responsible for funding my research: the Elwyn and Elsie Harp /Roosa Family Foundation gift to the School of Dental Medicine and a fellowship award from the Center for Molecular Medicine. I also want to thank Dr. Delany and graduate student Tiziana Franceschetti whose patience, guidance, and careful tutorship has helped me throughout the summer.
Outside of the lab, I have visited migrant farms throughout Connecticut performing oral exams. I learned to speak Spanish many years ago, and it was a special privilege to translate for patients as I worked and learned alongside my classmates. University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine emphasizes both service and learning. My classmates enjoy fulfilling that mission as we learn to become competent and compassionate dental professionals. I am excited to see what the future will hold in the next few years, but in the meantime, I am enjoying the last few weeks of summer with trips to the beach, visits to friends, and of course, baking some yummy desserts for my friends.