Margaret  Walker

Margaret Walker

Scholar Title

Research and Innovation Scholar

Research Title

High-throughput Dissection and Functional Validation of Tissue- Specific Enhancers Through a Massively Parallel Reporter Assay




Manolis Kellis


The human body is composed of many different cell-types, each with a unique subset of expressed genes. The driving forces behind differential expression are transcription factors, proteins that bind to specific DNA locations, known as enhancers, and induce expression of a given gene. Mutations in enhancer DNA can lead to abnormal binding, which can result in disease. The study of tissue- specific effects from modifications in enhancer DNA requires testing synthetic constructs in different cell types, a laborious and time consuming process. This project seeks to uncover the principles of enhancer tissue-specificity as well as to design and functionally validate synthetic tissue-specific enhancers that will allow for the expression of exogenous constructs in one cell type but not in another.


Majoring in course 6-7, I have had the opportunity to work on both basic and computational biological research. Previously I worked at the Koch studying molecular mechanisms of cell division, and I took 6.047, which introduced me to many areas of computational biology. My interdisciplinary major has provided me the skills and desire to work on a more rigorous project combining experimental and computational biology.

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