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Research Profile: The Genetics Behind Complex Diseases

November 12, 2021

Abigail Rohy (UNC ’23, CSS 7) is a biochemistry major from Inver Grove Heights, MN, with a minor in classics. Her research in the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Genetics explores the genetic basis for diabetes and other complex diseases.

Where do you conduct your research?

I do research in the Mohlke Lab under Dr. Karen Mohlke within the Department of Genetics.

What research questions does your lab study?

My lab works to identify various loci on the human genome that are associated with complex diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. After identifying these loci, the biological mechanisms behind them can also be discovered in order to better understand these disease pathways.

Please tell us a little about your current research project.

My research is working to identify the Rab protein that interacts with TBC1D30, which is a protein that assists in the processing and secretion of insulin from the pancreas. More specifically, I am testing for interactions between TBC1D30 and three Rab proteins, Rab 3A, Rab 8A, and Rab 27A. These Rab proteins act as a partner during this process and thus their identification would provide a deeper insight into this step of the larger pathway.

How has this experience shaped your future goals?

This experience has really solidified my desire to go into research in the future. I love the process of identifying a question and then working to find the answer. It has also introduced me to cellular biology research, which was not something that I had ever considered. I love everything that I have been working on thus far, so I want to continue doing it for as long as I can!

What has been the most fun or interesting part of your research?

The most interesting part of my research has honestly been able to see the things I’m learning in my classes take place right in front of me. It has not only deepened my learning but also has really strengthened my passion for STEM, because I am able to see lecture topics occur in real time. In addition, everyone within the lab has been incredibly supportive in my growth and my research, and I have loved getting to know them.

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