Undergraduate Research Program

Yashmira Naidoo

Naidoo, Yashmira

Microbiology       Minor: Chemistry, Bioethics and Humanities
Mentor: Michael Lagunoff, Microbiology

Contact: ynaidoo@uw.edu

Current research project: KSHV Modulates Peroxisome Biogenesis




Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
The Lagunoff lab studies how Kaposi’s Sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) changes endothelial cells to cause Kaposi’s Sarcoma—the most common tumor among AIDS patients worldwide. I aim to establish a cellular mechanism by which KSHV induces an increase in peroxisomes. These organelles play an important role in lipid metabolism and likely in KSHV pathogenesis. I measure gene expression in KSHV-infected cells to establish which genes are involved in peroxisome upregulation. To determine which specific genes regulate this process, I knock out expression of key transcription factors and measure their effect on gene expression. Hopefully, these results will establish a key pathway involved in KSHV latency and establish a target for KS treatment.

What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
Beyond the practical skills that research in a wet lab has given me, my experience as an undergraduate researcher has really changed the way I think about “failure”. When experiments don’t work out, or when the numbers don’t add up, you’re forced to go back to the drawing board and think through the problem in a very sequential, ordered way. This experience has developed my persistence and critical thinking in a way that has been applicable to both my work as a scientist and a student.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Flexibility! From initially getting involved in research to eventually working on your own project, things don’t always go as planned. Being able to roll with the circumstances and make the best of them without getting discouraged is so valuable.