Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program

Student Profiles

Belinda Jackson, Ph.D.
Biological Sciences 2010

Area of Doctoral Study: Biological Science
Undergraduate Institute: B.S Morgan State University
Graduate Institution: University of Maryland, Baltmore County

Research Advisor: David M. Eisenmann

Current: Postdoctoral Fellow/Staff Scientist, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Description of Research

I am interested in the role Wnt signaling plays in cell fate determination during development. Extra-cellular signaling, signal transduction and differential gene expression are essential elements of cell fate specification in metazoans. Studies have shown the evolutionarily conserved Wnt signal transduction pathway to be integral in a range of developmental processes. Mutations in Wnt pathway components have also been implicated in the onset and progression of various human cancers.
Using the model organism C. elegans, I wish to identify gene targets of Wnt signaling. In this nematode worm, formation of the vulva is dependent on Wnt signal induction in six progenitor cells, and over induction of this signal causes a multi-vulva phenotype. Using a modified C. elegans line (with heat shock controlled Wnt activation), and microarray technology, I will look for altered gene expression, both global and cell-type specific, associated with over-induction of the Wnt pathway. Identification and characterization of potential downstream targets in the worm may shed light on those genes affected in oncogenesis.

Belinda Jackson Meyerhoff 20th Oral Presentation
Natarajan, L., Jackson BM., Szyleyko E., Eisenmann DM., Identification of evolutionarily conserver promoter elements and amino acids required for function of the C. elegans beta-catenin homolog BAR-1. Dev Biol, 2004. 272(2):p. 536-57.

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