A question & answer session to get to know the 2020 GG Scholar Uche Chimeh, 2nd year graduate student in the Genetics Program. She is a member of the Aylor Lab.
What aspect of genetics and/or genomics most interests you?
I’m most interested in how gene-by-environment interactions and genetic variation influence human disease susceptibility.
What (or Who) influenced you to go into your field of study?
I became interested in this field when I learned about Mendelian inheritance in a high school Biology class. I’d learned how the sickle cell disease, which affected a few classmates and many other Nigerians, was inherited. After this class, I was sure I wanted to do research that discovered the mechanisms and remedies of such diseases.
Who or what do you hope benefits from your research?
I hope to contribute to the study of diseases that disproportionately affect people of African descent and other populations that are underrepresented in genetic research. Using GWAS and QTL mapping in genetically diverse populations, I’d like to uncover novel causative variants and their interacting environmental exposures.
How can your research be used to inform decision makers (e.g. policy makers, resource managers, health practitioners, K12 educators, etc etc)?
Better knowledge of causative variants could enable healthcare providers tailor more effective disease prevention and treatment to each patient. Additionally, discovering environmental exposures that influence disease susceptibility could encourage policy makers to enact environmentally just laws that protect the health of their constituents.
What do you think is the most pressing issue or problem in your field of study?
I’m still getting familiar with my field and would need a better knowledge of the state of the field to articulate the deficiencies. However, most of the GxE epidemiological studies I’ve come across are in European or East Asian populations. I hope to contribute to the expansion of these studies across more diverse populations.
How do you expect the GG Scholars program to impact your work?
I already notice that the GG Scholars program has encouraged me to adopt a multidisciplinary lens to genetics and genomics. As I seek to answer my research questions, I hope to continue discovering and applying the interrelatedness of various genetic/genomic disciplines, from development to population genetics and evolution.
How would you describe your research interests to a 3rd grader?
You might love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but your best friend in school might be allergic to peanut butter. I try to understand how unique people are through my research. I’m interested in making sure everybody gets the care that works best for them when they go to the doctor.
What’s your dream job?
I’d like to do genetic/genomic research that helps alleviate health disparities in conjunction with ensuring equitable access to social determinants of health. I’m still trying to figure out the perfect way to execute these interests.