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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2018 can be found here.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  Development of targeted therapies for peroxisome biogenesis disorders
Disciplines:  Biology, Chemistry
Mentor:  Joseph Hacia, Associate Professor, (BBE), hacia@hsc.usc.edu, Phone: 626-818-6378
Mentor URL:  http://profiles.sc-ctsi.org/joseph.hacia  (opens in new window)
Background:  NOTE: This project is being offered by a Caltech alumnus and will be conducted at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California.

Our long-term goal is to accelerate the discovery and clinical testing of small molecule, gene, and cell-based therapies for peroxisome biogenesis disorders of the Zellweger spectrum (PBD-ZSD). These are autosomal recessive genetic disorders caused by defects in genes encoding proteins necessary for the assembly of peroxisomes, an organelle found in most human cells. The majority of patients have milder forms of disease compatible with survival through adulthood. Nevertheless, they typically show a neurodegenerative disorder with liver dysfunction as well as hearing and vision loss. To date, there is no effective therapy that addresses the underlying biochemical and cellular abnormalities of PBD-ZSD.

My laboratory is involved in large-scale testing of many thousands of small molecule compounds in cultured cells from people affected by PBD-ZSD. We seek to identify compounds that improve peroxisome function, which, in the long-term, can be developed into therapies for PBD-ZSD. We work closely with families whose children are affected by PBD-ZSD as well as their physicians. As such, this project will provide an opportunity to work with cutting edge medical technology, but also allow a student to become part of a larger community of basic scientists, physicians, and families dedicated to helping kids with severe genetic diseases. This adds meaning in my life that I hope is also shared with all my trainees.
Description:  The student would be involved in large-scale image processing of data acquired in our drug screening project. This would be a great significance to our overall goal of finding better treatments for PBD-ZSD. The students would also be involved in bioinformatics analysis of large-scale genomic data sets related to therapy development for PBD-ZSD. As part of our team, the trainee will interact with a senior graduate student in my laboratory (Brad Steele) in addition to myself on a daily basis.
References:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26750748
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26319495
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24503136
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20301621
Student Requirements:  General biology and chemistry knowledge. Computer science training is optional.
Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.


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