Recent advancements in cancer research have shown that epigenetic aberrations play a larger role in the initiation and progression of cancer than we previously thought, providing new avenues to pursue in our search for a better understanding of the disease. Gene expression and genome organization is regulated by the deposition of epigenetic tags on DNA and histone proteins, allowing for genetic material to be packed more tightly and changing overall genome accessibility and architecture. Certain genetic mutations have been found to elicit changes in histone methylation patterns, the distribution of heterochromatin inside the nucleus and in 3D genome architecture. During my DPhil, I intend to focus on the chromatin remodeler ATRX, its implications in preserving chromatin organization, and the consequences of its mutation, which leads to developmental defects and cancer.
Before joining the Ludwig Institute, I completed my undergraduate studies in Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the University of Applied Sciences in Krems, Austria. For my Bachelor’s Thesis, I undertook a research internship at Boston Children’s Hospital / Harvard Medical School under the supervision of Prof. Yang Shi, which motivated me to continue my work when the lab moved to Oxford. My thesis studied the effects of H3K27M, the driver mutation in Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, on 3D genome organization in the C. elegans model organism.