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Sophie K

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Toronto, St. George Campus

Expertise

cell and molecular biology, genetics, gene therapy

Bio

Hi! I'm Sophie. I am a PhD student in the Molecular Genetics department at the University of Toronto. I work under Dr. James Dowling, a physician scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children. My research focuses on the effects of myotubular myopathy, a pediatric muscle disease, on the liver. I use zebrafish and human iPSC-derived liver cells as models to study this disease and hopefully help patients! I am especially interested in the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms causing this disease. Previously, I completed a Bachelor's degree at Wesleyan University in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. While there, I had two summer internships at CRISPR Therapeutics, a gene editing company in Cambridge, MA, and worked in the MacQueen lab studying yeast genetics. When I'm not busy with school and science, I love to spend time outdoors, either hiking, backpacking, or rock climbing. I also played volleyball in college and continue to play both beach and indoor. I also love mentoring the next generation of scientists and helping others reach their scientific aspirations through thoughtful questions and supportive feedback!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

The Ethics of Human Gene Editing

The discovery of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing has led to a flurry of research advances, many of which have people both excited and terrified at the possibilities. In this project, you will research the ethical questions involved in gene editing technology and learn about the guidelines different governing bodies have adapted to address gene-editing research. What's the difference between in vivo and ex vivo, or somatic and germline editing? You could finish by writing a review article, or by developing a set of ethical frameworks by which to categorize new gene-editing advances.

What is Essential?

A biological process is like a machine. Some parts of it are essential for the machine to function, while others are not required, just useful. Using a simple genetic model like bacteria or yeast, you can mutate genes involved in a particular biological process to determine which are essential for its function and which are not.

Coding skills

basic skills in R, Python

Teaching experience

I worked as a teaching assistant at Pathways to Stem Cell Science, a small educational biotech startup in Los Angeles, California, where I taught high school students stem-cell culture techniques. I also worked as a Peer Tutor while at Wesleyan, as a Content Developer for the 2021 StemCellTalks Toronto Symposium, Co-Chair for the 2022 and 2023 symposiums, and as an organizer for the U of Toronto Science Rendezvous outreach event.

Credentials

Work experience

Wesleyan University (2018 - 2020)
Undergraduate Research Assistant
CRISPR Therapeutics (2018 - 2019)
Summer Research Associate
Pathways to Stem Cell Science (2017 - 2017)
Teaching Assistant
Hospital for Sick Children (2020 - Current)
Graduate Researcher

Education

Wesleyan University
BA Bachelor of Arts
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Molecular Genetics
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Molecular Genetics

Completed Projects

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