Damon Polioudakis | What makes cells grow?


Explaining my Research

Cell growth, the process of one cell dividing into two new cells, is involved in many important processes in our body, such as wound healing, development, and hair growth, as well as maintaining our immune system and digestive tract. However, most cells in our body are at rest and not actively dividing to make new cells.  Every cell in our body must make the important decision to either grow and divide or remain at rest, and this process is tightly regulated.  Disruption of the mechanisms our body uses to regulate cell growth may result in uncontrolled cell growth, leading to serious disease.  Cancer is essentially uncontrolled cell growth. Understanding the processes that transition a cell from a state of rest to a state of growth provides valuable information for understanding normal human biology as well as cancer biology.

My research focuses on a special class of molecules, called microRNAs, that help control many diverse biological processes, including cell growth and division.  microRNAs regulate these processes by controlling gene expression, and allow our cells to more precisely and rapidly direct which genes are being expressed. Over the course of my research, I have identified several of these microRNAs that are involved in regulating cell growth.  I am now in the process of both determining which genes are specifically being regulated by these microRNAs, and the mechanisms by which these microRNAs select which genes to regulate.

How did you become involved with “Present your PhD Thesis to a 12 year-old” project?

Peter Enyeart, a member of the group, was discussing his experiences and involvement with the project over lunch one day, and I thought it sounded like a fantastic opportunity to expose young students to real research, a great way to improve my ability to communicate scientific ideas, and just a lot of fun.

What is your goal introducing such a project/topic to young students?

It is my goal to share my love of science with the students, and to give the students a better understanding of what biological research actually is.  A lot of science education is book based, and the students have very little interaction with actual scientists. We have the unique opportunity to share cutting edge research with the students in a middle school classroom, and to give them some idea as to what a scientists actually does everyday.

Damon Polioudakis

About the Ph.D. Thesis

Constructing a microRNA target interaction network regulating proliferation using Argonaute 2 immunoprecipitations

What makes cell grow?

View Damon's Presentation

My Research

Iyer Lab

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