Undergraduate Research Program

Julia Joo

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Mentor: Alan Herr, Pathology
Contact: jhyj@uw.edu

Current research project: Identifying Antimutator Genes in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae; Analyzing the Safety and Efficacy of Dimethyl Fumarate in Multiple Sclerosis



Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
In the Herr Lab, we are trying to find genes in the yeast genome that prevent cell death from lethal levels of mutation. Mutation levels are hypothesized to be elevated to a certain level in cancers, causing gross abnormalities from the normal cell conditions, but not so much that the cell dies. We would like to understand what genes may be controlling this delicate balance.

Dimethyl fumarate is a medication for multiple sclerosis that has been released on the market relatively recently. At the Swedish Medical Center, we are trying to track its efficacy across various demographics of MS patients as well as examine any non-MS related risks associated with taking this medication for a prolonged period of time.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
After my first research internship in high school, I realized how much I loved being able to apply my textbook knowledge of biology to pressing questions at the forefront of the biomedical field, and decided to continue to be involved in research as an undergraduate student. At UW, I reached out to a cancer biologist I had admired since high school and was lucky enough to hear back! I’ve since explored further into the realm of cancer research and love learning more about the field every day.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
It is important to find a project and community that best resonates with you. Really take the time to understand a lab’s main purpose before sending out a CV. It may be time consuming, but finding the right fit is definitely worth it.