If the genome is an instruction manual encoding all the biological functions of cells, then the epigenome is the set of annotations and side notes that further dictate how these instructions are implemented and enforced. This process consists of chemical modifications of DNA and associated proteins that govern how genes turn on or off, while not affecting the underlying genetic sequences. The failure of such mechanisms contributes to many of our most serious diseases, including neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases and cancers. In this project, students will learn about epigenetic pathways that control gene expression and how dysregulation can lead to cancers. Students will participate in efforts of deciphering unique epigenetics markers associated with cancers development and progression.
The students will conduct a research project in the Center for Epigenomics Research and will be instructed in the basics of epigenetic and molecular biology laboratory techniques. The student will also have a chance to learn basic bioinformatic analysis of genomic and epigenomic datasets. Moreover, as a part of the UROP/EpiHK Co-sponsored International Undergraduate Research Program (UROP-EPIC), upon satisfactory completion of their projects, students will have the opportunity to conduct summer research abroad at a partner institution in the United States, Canada or Germany, over a period of 8-10 weeks.
The main learning objective is to gain insights in epigenetics research. Students should learn the basics of a range of laboratory techniques as well as how to develop an independent research plan.