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NYIT faculty members to research RNA variants under multi-year NIH grant

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Henry Lawrence
Sep 18, 2017 17:05
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(New York, N.Y.) - NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) faculty members Shenglong Zhang, Ph.D., and Wenjia Li, Ph.D., have won a cutting edge research award (R21) from the National Institutes of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute to develop novel direct RNA sequencing methods.

The grant totals $568,000 over three years and promises new tools to explore potential environmental and biological factors in serious diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Combining their expertise, Zhang, assistant professor of Life Science, and Li, assistant professor of Computer Science, have tackled a problem with repercussions for all 21st-century humans: how to reliably detect and quantify modifications in RNA molecules.

"Damage to our DNA and RNA caused by a toxic environment is incremental and not observable," said Li.

To have a thorough understanding of these changes, scientists need to be able to identify and measure RNA modifications, which cannot yet be done reliably or accurately.

As cellular signals of environmental changes, RNA modifications are closely linked to major conditions like breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

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Henry Lawrence
Sep 18, 2017 17:05
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