Jessica Pellegrino

Jessica Pellegrino is a PhD student in Robert Schneider’s team at the Institute of Functional Epigenetics. Here she tells us more about her research and what it’s like to work at Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Can you explain the question you are addressing and the main importance of your study?

Jessica: My research focuses on whether a cell, when challenged with a stimulus, can remember that it was challenged and thereby adapt its response when it is challenged again. Simply put, I take away glucose from a cell in culture and it has a response that can be measured by changes in gene expression. The cell is then allowed to recover by giving it back glucose and then we take away the glucose a second time. The cell shows a gene expression response that suggests it “remembers” this challenge and therefor can adapt to it. The main goal of my project it to study this “transcriptional memory” and to determine how it works.

What is the biggest challenge in your project?

Jessica: The most challenging aspect of my project was establishing the proper system to study this transcriptional memory. I spent many months optimizing the system and timing of the experiments. Though this was very painstaking work at the beginning, it paid off once I began my experiments and I was confident I was looking at the correct time points to answer my questions.
 
What attracted you to do your PhD in the Schneider lab and what is your favourite thing about the Helmholtz research environment?

Jessica: The choice to do my PhD in the Schneider lab was a combination of my interest in the study of epigenetics and the ability to work on an independent project but still receiving guidance from Dr. Schneider and my lab mates.

The Helmholtz research environment is very diverse in respect to both the research subjects and the people who work on them. I enjoy learning about the work done at Helmholtz, even if it is not directly related to the field I am in and that inspires me to think about science in different ways.

Visit the lab webpage to find out more about work in the Schneider team

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