Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Visali Sethuraman

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Winter 2020

 Research Project: Optimizing Gene Knockout Using Microhomology-Mediated CRISPR Editing in Zebrafish

Project Description: Osteoporosis is an orthopedic disease in which old bone begins to dissolve, but is not replaced by new bone. The aim of my project was to find the most effective method for knocking out genes associated with osteoporosis in a zebrafish model. My project used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to manipulate and study genes involved in osteoporosis. I compared a new, MMEJ-based CRISPR approach to knocking out wnt16 (a gene associated with osteoporosis)to the previous, NHEJ-based CRISPR approach used in the lab. This project may help optimize a rapid and effective screening of many candidate genes using CRISPR/Cas9 technology to study skeletal phenotypes in zebrafish.

What have you learned throughout your research project? 

This project has allowed me to develop critical thinking skills important to scientific processes. I have become familiar with various molecular biology techniques including CRISPR/Cas9 technology, injecting and imaging zebrafish embryos, and analyzing data with genomic-based programs. My mentors have guided me by teaching me the skills I needed to carry out these experiments. This research project has also helped me shape my goals as I think about what I want in my future career. The Mary Gates Research Scholarship has helped me gain and share new perspectives on research.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

The Mary Gates Scholarship is a great opportunity that encourages undergraduate students to spend more time in research. By presenting at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, scholars can engage with other researchers to learn about different perspectives. The Mary Gates Scholarship allows undergraduate students to increase their scientific knowledge and skill set, and introduces them to a collaborative community of young scholars.