Thesis Talk Thursday
December 3, 2020
GSA Thesis Talk Thursday Features
Nervous system has always fascinated me and during my MS in bioinformatics, I fell in love with the world of data analysis, coding and statistics. Being able to kills two birds with a stone (pursue two passions as my PhD work) is more than what a scientist would ask for. Further, I work in the lab with extremely supportive supervisor and friends, adding icing to the cake.
What is your research about?
Schwann cells are repair cells of peripheral nervous system. However, this repair is insufficient to heal a nerve injury completely after injury. Current medical interventions include surgical repair which are invasive and extremely painful. I am looking at skin-derived Schwann cells as an alternative source of Schwann cells, so we can utilize autologous Schwann cells to improve nerve repair. For this, I am comparing transcriptomic profile of skin-derived and nerve- Schwann cells and asking if they are transcriptomically equivalent. The next step would be to assess if they are functionally equivalent, that is equivalently capable of improving nerve repair. If found equivalent, this could mean that the functional outcome, and thus quality of of millions of patients will improve every year, they will not be looking at permanent disability and best of all, all this without undergoing painful surgical repair procedure.
How do you do your research?
For my research, I utilize single-cell RNA sequencing approach. Basically, we can access mRNA information and thus, gene expression level of individual genes in a cell. Thus, we can access individual cell-types in a tissue of interest. I utilize pipelines primarily in R and Python languages in combination with statistical analysis and perform comparison between different cell types (in this case, skin-derived and nerve- Schwann cells) in order answer the biological question.
What is the implication of your research?
My research will introduce new therapeutic intervention of utilizing autologous skin-derived Schwann cells for nerve repair which is non-invasive and not as painful as surgical intervention.
Further, my work will also help improve functional outcome and thus quality of life of millions of people who may otherwise live in permanent disability due to peripheral injury.