Name: Ash Kulkarni
Mentor: Manuel Ascano, Ph.D.
Hi! I am Aishwarya from Australia. I’m in my third year studying the Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. I came to know about VISRA through my University. It has been a wonderful opportunity to work at a major research institute, gain many technical skills and form some great networks.
I have been interested in biological science since my senior years in high school and am particularly drawn towards oncology. My main area of interest is research with a biochemical approach to cancer treatment- including identifying pathway components that could lead to oncogene or tumour suppressor formation. I have previously worked on identifying and characterising pathway components that interact with the oncogene ‘yorkie’ in the Hippo Pathway which regulates organ development.
My VISRA placement is at the Ascano lab which focuses on RNA-protein interactions and the cellular response to stress signals caused by cytoplasmic presence of nucleic acids. I am specifically studying the operation of cGAS; an enzyme involved in a major cytosolic DNA-sensing pathway for innate immunity.
Completing this program has helped me immensely in planning for studies after graduation and has been an invaluable stepping-stone to the field of scientific research. I would recommend it to anyone who is planning on pursuing a research career. Nashville is also a great city with lots of entertainment and delicious food- especially the sweet tea!