This summer, Makana started working in a chemical engineering lab with Professor Richard Roberts. Her project uses mRNA display to optimize a sequence of DNA that produces a high-affinity pepide for HDM2, which is related to cancer cells. Starting with a randomly sequenced DNA pool, she uses transcription and translation to produce proteins, then uses binding assays to find the highest affinity protein. Therefore, a diagnostic reagent could be made to detect HDM2 levels in a patient sample. It’s a cool combination of engineering and science at a USC Viterbi lab!
“My favorite part about my research is definitely the people… there are five undergraduates working this summer and we definitely have a lot of fun! I also enjoy the mentorship from the PhD students, who are helping me figure out my post-grad plans!”