Thanks to the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentorship program, I was able to experience firsthand what scientific research is like under the mentorship of post-doc Dr. Fengchao Lang in the Perelman School of Medicine’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology. My project was to research the effects of knocking down the Mettl14 protein in the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). The EBV virus is double stranded DNA virus belonging to the herpes virus family. The EBV virus was the first human tumor virus to be discovered and is incredibly common, approximately 90-95% of the human population are currently infected with this virus. The EBV virus is usually carried in salivary glands and is therefore commonly spread through kissing or sharing drinking or eating utensils. However, while most people have the virus in their system, they only suffer the symptoms once in their life and then build up an immunity for the remainder of their life. EBV contributes to about 0.5-2% of cancer occurrence and is shown to be associated with Hodgkin Lymphoma (HL), Burkitt’s Lymphoma (BL), Post-transplant Lymphoproliferative Disease (PTLD), Primary CNS Lymphoma (PCNSL), Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC) and gastric carcinoma (GC).
For my project, the protein that we wanted to knockdown can either enhance degradation of RNA or promote translation or creation of protein. In addition to my project I also coordinated with other post-doc students, developed mentor relationships with lab faculty, and gained an understanding and introduction to research. This summer has been one eye-opening experience, showing me how the research world works and just how vast and endless the number of issues there are to be studied and researched. I want to thank Dr. Robertson for allowing me to join his lab and granting me the opportunity to participate in this project. I also want to thank Dr. Fengchao for mentoring and putting up with me for these past ten weeks and the rest of the lab for their continued support.