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Katya Makeyeva, PhD'23, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

“I always wanted to target the root of human disease instead of treating symptoms.”

katya makeyevaKazakhstan native Katya Makeyeva has wanted to be a genetic engineer as long as she can remember.

“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,” said Makeyeva, PhD'23. “Scientists have so many opportunities to advance the field and come up with life-changing therapies and improve the human condition.”

While a student at UMass Chan, Makeyeva investigated how small RNA pathways regulate gene expression of reproductive cells. She worked 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.

Makeyeva moved to the United States after high school to further her education in science. While majoring in biology at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, 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.

Makeyeva said this is a perfect time to be a genetic engineer. “UMass Chan is one of the places to be because we have so many cool scientists, so much cool research going on where you can actively take part in this like-- I don't want to say revolution. But like, honestly, I mean, that's what it feels like. There's so much going on in science right now,” she said.