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SIT-Summer Institute in Taiwan
Academic Exchange & Cultural Experience in Taiwan
Julie Chih-yu Chen
My visit at NHRI has strengthened my knowledge in genome-wide genetic association studies, and has brought on a different perspective towards the lung cancer disease. The studies at NHRI emphasize on finding biomarkers for practical lung cancer diagnostic and prognostic purposes, which are more health oriented compared to general biological approaches. Coming from a computational biology background, I put more focus on interpreting the underlying molecular biology that is associated with lung cancer, and provide experimental suggestions to further the understanding. Ultimately the common goal of these studies is to aid in understanding the disease of interest, and practical applications to the disease can have a more direct impact on human lives.
A high proportion of disease associating SNPs reported in genome wide association studies (GWAS) is located in intergenic regions, which are difficult to interpret with only gene annotations. The purpose of our study is to incorporate epigenetic and transcriptional perspectives to help such interpretation of important lung cancer associated loci, which paves the way to finding diagnostic and prognostic markers as well as therapeutic targets. During my summer program here at NHRI, I have successfully identified intergenic SNP candidates that are located in functional elements such as enhancers and promoters, which are likely to affect transcriptional activities resulting in disease susceptibility. The pool of top associated SNPs was narrowed down to biological interesting SNPs through my bioinformatics analyses, and can be further validated with biological experiments.
Although seven weeks is a short time to make any strong conclusions or have validations completed, the experience and knowledge gained so far are also invaluable to my PhD study. The SIT program not only provided me a wonderful opportunity to work with experts in statistical genetics and their team, Dr. Chao A. Hsiung and Dr. I-Shou Chang, but also gave us a chance to potentially advance the scientific knowledge regarding lung cancer.
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