Sharona R. Thompson
Ph.D. pre-candidate
Bioinformatics Program
Boston University


Ever wonder why some people have webbed fingers and some don't? The answer lies in a biological process called apoptosis. Apoptosis is a genetically controlled form of cell death that occurs normally during development. In the formation of the hand, fingers are created, but not separately. Only through apoptosis are the fingers separated into individual digits. Webbing occurs when the regulation of apoptosis events is abnormal and fails to cease at a point other than at the base of the finger. The abnormal regulation of apoptosis is implicated in multiple diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. The molecular process of apoptosis is found in various organisms, as homologous genes have been found to control apoptosis in organisms ranging from nematodes to man.

My research is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of apoptosis and the role of cell death in development. These questions are being investiga$ in a model organism, Drosophila melanogaster. Genetic and molecular approaches are being used to identify biological components and computational and mathematical approaches are being used to identify regulatory components of of the apoptosis pathway in the ovary.

Currently, I work with Dr. Kim McCall and Dr. Simon Kasif to find ways of answering these questions.



If you would like to find out more information regarding Sharona Thompson's research you can email her at: srwashin@bu.edu.

LINKS
Boston University
Bioinformatics Program
FlyBase
Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project