I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I completed my undergraduate education in Integrative Biology at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. During my participation in the OGR program, I have worked in Dr. Jason Weber’s lab of Molecular Oncology. Thanks to the OGR program, I developed a strong passion for conducting cancer research, with the purpose of translating new knowledge to therapeutic efforts and improving patients’ lives. For this reason, I will be joining the Cancer Biology PhD program at WashU next fall.
We are studying a dsRNA editing enzyme called adenosine deaminase acting on RNA I or ADAR1, which carries out the deamination of adenosine (A) bases to inosine (I) in dsRNA. This “A-to-I editing” results in inosine being interpreted as guanosine (G) by cellular machinery. While it plays roles in organ development and homeostasis, several studies have uncovered pro-oncogenic properties. This enzyme is highly expressed in most cancers, including of the breast—its high expression being correlated with poorer prognoses. Therefore, our goal is to elucidate the molecular and mechanistic role of ADAR1 in the context of breast cancer and eventually help develop novel therapeutic strategies.