I am currently working using adaptive optics to characterize a transgenic pig model of retinitis pigmentosa. This disease is caused by a mutation in rhodopsin which results in a loss of rod photoreceptors, eventually leading to blindness. This model will allow us to look in depth at the pathophysiology of the disease and hopefully lead to possible gene therapies to restore/preserve vision.
I received a dual degree in biochemistry and Spanish from UW-Madison, intending to go to medical school. My freshman year, I joined a laboratory studying free energy changes in bacterial RNA polymerase during transcription initiation. Although biophysical chemistry wasn’t my passion, I really loved doing research. I have always loved puzzles and to me, research was the ultimate puzzle, requiring knowledge, logic, and creativity. During the four years I was in the lab, I realized that while I wanted to continue doing research, I still wanted to treat patients. After graduation, I took a year off, worked as a tech studying epigenetic control of metabolic genes in the liver, and applied to combined MD/PhD programs.