Alumna, Erin Lamontagne was an undergraduate researcher in our lab starting in 2015 and graduated in 2016. During her time in our lab she was mentored by Dr. Andrew Field, and compared neural differentiation of different primate stem cell lines to identify long noncoding RNAs unique to human cortical development. This project laid the foundation for her love of stem cell research. Through this experience she learned many lab techniques (single cell RNA sequencing and other RNA sequencing library prep, many PCR varieties, iPSC and ESC culture, immunofluorescence staining and imaging, plasmid cloning, cortical organoid differentiation). She presented posters on this research at the International Society for Stem Cell Research 2016 Conference and the UCSC Undergraduate Research Symposium 2016. She completed her senior thesis on this project (Cortical organoid development from Sumatran Orangutan induced pluripotent stem cells) and is an author on the resulting paper: Structurally Conserved Primate LncRNAs Are Transiently Expressed During Human Cortical Differentiation and Influence Cell-Type-Specific Genes.
She then worked in the Daniel Kim lab starting late 2016 and assisted in setting up the lab and pluripotent stem cell culture. During this time she studied lncRNAs involved in cellular reprogramming and cancer transformation. She used CRISPR activation and inhibition systems to alter targeted lncRNA expression and observe their effects on reprogramming, random differentiation, and cancer gene expression. Her main project included developing a technology that targets lncRNAs in microvesicles (from human blood) to detect early stage cancers.