Gillie

Ben-Chorin

PhD Graduate Student
Short Research Description: 

Previous Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara

Full Research Description: 

I graduated from UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies with a degree in biology in 2013. During my time in Santa Barbara I worked in Dr. Steven Fisher’s lab studying astrocytes in the mouse neural retina. I used various genetic, imaging, and computational techniques to examine how astrocyte structure and spacial relationship to other retinal elements differ in healthy and injured retinas. I was also involved in science outreach and education, and hope to continue with outreach at Columbia.

After graduating I went to work with Dr. Doug Vollrath at Stanford University, where I studied mouse and human genetics in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. One of my projects describes an eQTL and modifier gene that alters the severity of retinal degeneration in mice with a degeneration phenotype that is similar to retinitis pigmentosa. I also worked on a follow-up project in human RPE cells to look for eQTLs that might give rise to differences in RPE health and performance in humans, and explain why individuals with similar genetic eye diseases have such high phenotypic variability.

At Columbia I hope to study neurodevelopment in animal models. My goal is to contribute to the understanding of how neural cells arrive at a physical location and developmental state that allows them to function in healthy models, and how these states might be altered in disease or aged models.    

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