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Undergraduate Research Program

Shuchi Gaur

Gaur, Shuchi 150x200
Majors: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Political Science
Mentor: Ramasamy Paulmurugan, Radiology


Current research project: Engineering Gaussia Luciferase as a Novel Bio-Imaging Sensor for In Vitro and In Vivo Applications


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) is a commonly used bioluminescent protein that is gaining importance as a reporter gene in multiple research applications, many of which pertain to cancer. However, Gluc is a secreted reporter protein, which limits its usefulness in cell imaging, tracking of cell processes, and other applications. Increasing its intracellular retention would then remedy these limitations and open new avenues for various and more effective bio-imaging applications. I developed a modified Gluc protein that is retained intracellularly, and then also investigated and developed this modified protein’s use as a biomarker for endoplasmic reticulum stress, and as an apoptotic sensor that would allow its measurement in response to cell death caused by chemotherapeutic drugs. This modified Gluc protein that is retained intracellularly has so far proved useful in cell imaging, cell tracking, and other bio-imaging applications such as those already mentioned.

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
Part of the reason I chose to attend UW is how supportive its environment is of undergrads taking part in research. I never had the opportunity to do any lab research in high school and knew it was something I wanted to try in college. The actual process of becoming involved was a complete mystery to me, but luckily I had a friend with a lot of experience who guided me through it and helped me find my first lab to join in spring quarter of my freshman year!

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Start early and look broadly! Look for research in the field that you’re interested in, but also be open to the research you surprise yourself by finding interesting. Also, don’t be afraid of reaching out to professors!