The UAB-HudsonAlpha Genomic Medicine Research Training Program announces the selection of HudsonAlpha postdoctoral fellow Nicholas Cochran, PhD, as a trainee in the inaugural year of the program. Funded by a National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, the training program is designed to recruit trainees from various disciplines and provide mentorship and clinical research training in genomic medicine.

“I’m a big believer in genomic medicine – both in how we are already applying it and certainly in how we will be able to apply it in the future,” Cochran said. “As a researcher, I was excited by the opportunity to train with some of the best investigators in the field of genomic medicine.”

Cochran works in the lab of Richard Myers, PhD, president, science director, and faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha. The joint program is led at HudsonAlpha by Greg Barsh, MD, PhD, a faculty investigator at the Institute, and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham by Bruce Korf, MD, PhD. Korf is a chair of the department of genetics and the director for the Heflin Center for Genomic Sciences at UAB.

Cochran’s work in the training program will include a project that is a collaboration between HudsonAlpha and UAB where he and other researchers will analyze whole genomes from patients with early onset neurologic diseases. The group will also sequence the patient’s parents and/or unaffected siblings when they are available. Sequencing family members might help them identify causative genetic changes more easily, according to Cochran, and could also tell them how often these types of diseases are caused by new genetic variants that arise by chance. The group will return the results to the family members who had sequencing, which brings a clinical element to the project.

In another project, Cochran is working on developing new models in the lab using human neurons and other brain cells reprogrammed from adult skin cells. Having this type of model system available will be a valuable resource to do further study on genetic variants identified through genomic medicine efforts, Cochran says.

“It is an honor to be selected for this training program,” Cochran said, “and I’m thrilled to be able to work in such a cutting edge area that also fosters the fruitful collaboration between HudsonAlpha and UAB.”

Miranda Burnette, PhD, who works with Christopher Klug, PhD, at UAB, was also nominated for the training program. The focus of her work will be using next-generation genomics and comprehensive drug screening both to discover novel therapeutic strategies and to understand mechanisms of drug resistance in triple-negative breast cancer and serous ovarian cancer.

Find out more about the NIH training grant that supports the genomic medicine research training program.



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