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Biomedical sciences student works toward a future in genetic engineering

By Kaylee Pugliese

UMass Chan Medical School Communications

enero 31, 2022

Katya Makeyeva, a native of Kazakhstan, moved to the United States after high school to further her education in science.

“For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a genetic engineer,” said Makeyeva, a PhD student in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. “The reason I’m so fascinated by the field is because I always wanted to target the root of human disease instead of treating symptoms.”

Makeyeva studied biology at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin.

“Once I started to go to college in the U.S., I finally got to join a lab. It was my lifelong dream to do that kind of stuff,” she said. “Scientists have so many opportunities to advance the field and come up with life-changing therapies and improve the human condition.”

In her undergraduate lab, she studied how acute treatment with steroid hormones affects spatial memory.

“As a result of my research, we found that males and females remember things differently. I felt like that was my first contribution to science,” Makeyeva said.

At UMass Chan, she works in the lab of Nobel Laureate Craig Mello, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and distinguished professor of RNA therapeutics and molecular medicine. She is investigating how small RNA pathways regulate gene expression of reproductive cells.

The Biomedical Sciences PhD Program is an umbrella program, which allows students to explore different areas of interest before deciding on a research path. Makeyeva has had the opportunity to work in three labs in her first 24 weeks and she credits the Medical School with fueling her passion for science.

“UMass Chan is one of the places to be because we have so many cool scientists and research activities going on in which you can actively take part,” she said. “It feels like a revolution because there’s so much going on in science right now.”

The Student Spotlight series features UMass Chan Medical School students in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing and T.H. Chan School of Medicine. For more information about UMass Chan Medical School and how to apply, visit the Prospective Students page.

Related UMass Chan news stories: 
FDA approves first drug to use RNA interference, based on discoveries made at UMass Medical School
PhD student studies cancer tumor cells; follows path of high school science teacher