Microbiology Immunology and Cancer Biology Program (MICaB)
Branden Moriarity Lab
Where are you from? Why did you choose to study at the UofM?
I grew up in Michigan – I spent half my life in northern lower Michigan and the other half in the Upper Peninsula. In either location, I was lucky enough to be within a five-minute walk of either Lake Michigan or Lake Superior. After earning an M.S. in Neuroscience from Northern Michigan University, I moved to Minneapolis to take a job as an Assistant Scientist in Dr. Craig Eckfeldt’s lab. Three years of work as a technician in cancer research confirmed my decision to pursue a PhD. I chose to enter the MICaB program at the U of M, and specifically Dr. Branden Moriarity’s lab, because I was excited to work in a collaborative community of immunologists, cancer biologists, and genome engineers.
What is your current primary research area? Are there any highlights or major achievements in your recent research?
My primary research area involves engineering primary human NK cells with the goal of creating clinical products to treat human disease. After developing a novel protocol for engineering NK cells, I was selected to speak about my research at the CRISPR conference in Barcelona last year, and at the Genome Writers Guild conference here at UMN each of the two years it’s been held.
What are your aspirations for the next five years?
Currently I’m a few months away from publishing my first major work on NK cell engineering. Once that’s behind me, I have a few more ideas I hope could eventually lead to a clinical trial for ovarian cancer, as well as plans to use immune cell engineering to learn more about basic immunology. That should get me to the finish line of my career as a PhD student, after which my long-term goal is to become an independent investigator in the fields of immunology and genome engineering, with a focus on clinical translation – perhaps even here at the U.
Why is it important that your lab participate in the Center for Genome Engineering?
Science is inherently a culture of community. It’s through sharing and collaboration that we will reach our greatest achievements. Beyond that, it has become apparent the CGE has positioned the University of Minnesota as a renowned hotspot for genome engineering technologies, as evidenced by the success of the Genome Writers Guild conference over the past two years. CGE bi-weekly meetings are a great place for trainees and PIs alike to learn about new research ideas and discuss collaboration.
Thank you Emily!