Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Xiaoyue Mei L&S Sciences

Investigating the Epigenetic Correlation Between Disease and Aging

DNA methylation (DNAme) refers to the addition of a methyl group to the cytosines of the CpG islands in the gene regulatory regions, which is involved in regulating transcription and chromatin structure, typically silencing the corresponding genetic locus. A lifetime of accumulated epigenetic changes has been proposed to contribute to the development of age-associated diseases. I aim to investigate the biological relevance of DNA methylation clocks via Elastic Net regression approaches and to develop a better model by which chronological age could be correlated with the disease through epigenetics. Meanwhile, DNAme changes with age in a direction that differs per individual, which suggests epigenetic variations to be higher among the elderly compared to younger individuals. I will examine the interindividual variation of DNAme using the output of DNAme arrays and annotate the age-variable CpGs to the candidate biological age-relevant genes/proteins based on the Conboy lab screens, by conventional and bio-orthogonal comparative proteomics on age- and disease-caused changes. The comparisons will be established upon control young, control old, and the longitudinal “old – rejuvenated omics (through approaches such as heterochronic blood exchanges and old plasma dilution).

Message To Sponsor

Thank you for sponsoring such an incredible opportunity for me, and thanks to the Conboy lab for supporting my research. I grew up dreaming of becoming a doctor, so this is certainly an eye-opening experience for me. By participating in SURF and working in the Conboy Lab as an undergraduate researcher this summer, I will be able to immerse myself in an environment full of aspiring scientists and intriguing projects to appreciate the beauty of research. I am excited to learn how to carry out independent research, to investigate specific scientific question, and to continue to grow as a scientist.
Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
Mentor: Irina Conboy
Sponsor: Lin & Miles Fund
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