Nighat Noureen, PhD, Awarded CPRIT Postdoctoral Training Award (Zheng Lab)

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Congratulations to Nighat Noureen, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Greehey CCRI principal investigator, Siyuan Zheng, PhD, on recently being awarded a CPRIT fellowship training grant.

Dr. Noureen joined Dr. Zheng’s lab in June 2018. Her first project was to develop a computational method to quantify telomerase activity in cancer and normal samples.

Active telomerase plays an essential role in maintaining cancer genome instability. Dr. Noureen designed an efficient computational method called EXTEND that can measure telomerase activities of thousands of samples at a time. They demonstrate that EXTEND is superior to existing experimental protocols in both robustness and scalability.

So far, they have quantified telomerase activity in bulk samples, but it is important to investigate it at single-cell resolution. In her proposal, Dr. Noureen proposes to screen millions of single cells in normal and cancer tissues to identify telomerase-positive cells, which represent potential tumor-initiating cells. These cells are the culprits for tumor recurrence and resistance to many treatments.

Through the CPRIT award platform, Noureen will get the opportunity to go through a variety of training and interactions with the researchers focusing on different areas of cancer genomics. These activities will be beneficial not only for the current project but also for her career.

Zheng said, “Fellowships are extremely important for career development in the US. I think this fellowship enhances her CV and gives her the academic freedom to explore new research directions. Her success shows the opportunities available to trainees in the cancer center and sets an excellent example for the lab.”

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