Postdoc Suying Bao Named Precision Medicine Fellow
Suying Bao, PhD
Suying Bao, a postdoctoral research scientist in the Chaolin Zhang lab , has been named an inaugural Precision Medicine Research fellow by Columbia’s Irving Institute of Clinical and Translational Research . The two-year fellowship aims to train postdocs to use genomics and complex clinical data to improve personalized and tailored clinical care and clinical outcomes.
This fellowship “will provide me with more opportunities to translate my findings from basic science research into clinical application,” says Bao, “and pave my way towards an independent researcher in this field.”
Bao’s expertise lies in RNA regulation at the interface of systems biology, ranging from the specificity of protein-RNA interaction to function of specific splice variants. RNA regulation is critical in proper cellular function; gaining deeper insights into this complex molecular mechanism will promote the development of precision medicine therapies.
In this project, Bao is aiming to develop new approaches to identify causal noncoding regulatory variants (RVs) modulating post-transcriptional gene expression regulation, such as RNA splicing and stability. “A majority of genetic variants associated with human diseases reside in noncoding genomic regions with regulatory roles,” notes Bao. “Thus, elucidating how these noncoding regulatory variants contribute to gene expression variation is a crucial step towards unraveling genotype-phenotype relationships and advancing precision medicine for common and complex diseases.”
To identify these RVs, she will leverage massive datasets of high-throughput profiles of gene expression and protein-RNA interactions generated from large cohorts of normal and disease human tissues and cell lines by multiple consortia, such as ENCODE, GTEx and CommonMind, and develop innovative computational methods of data mining.
This is the first year the Precision Medicine Research fellowship has been awarded. The two-year program will include required lectures in precision medicine as well as coursework in systems biology, genomics, statistics, ethics and/or medical informatics. Bao joined the Zhang lab in 2017 after completing her PhD in genetics and bioinformatics at the University of Hong Kong. She received her BSc in bioinformatics from Harbin Medical University.
The Zhang lab in the Department of Systems Biology at Columbia concentrates on the study of the nervous system and its underlying molecular mechanisms. The group focuses on the function of post-transcriptional gene regulation, in particular a level of molecular regulation called alternative RNA splicing, in the nervous system.
-Melanie A. Farmer