Hi, my name is Krithika and I come from the beautiful city
Pune in India. I received a bachelor's degree in Pharmacy from Pune University.
My coursework was mainly focused on the physiology, etiology and
management of various diseases. Among the various diseases I explored, cancer
caught my attention mainly because, despite a reservoir of knowledge on their
complexity and various treatment options, few cancers are treatable, while
majority continue to remain fatal. Of all the topics in the pharmacy program, I
realized that I was most interested in studying the cellular and molecular
mechanisms underlying the life threatening diseases. Therefore, I decided to
pursue a Master's degree in Biotechnology at the Johns Hopkins University with
a concentration in molecular targets and drug discovery technologies.
an attempt to explore and understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of
tumorigenesis, I joined Dr. Prakash Kulkarni's laboratory at Johns Hopkins School
of medicine as a trainee. Dr.
Kulkarni's lab is primarily interested in a group of heterogeneous proteins
known as Cancer /Testis Antigens or CTAs and their role in prostate cancer. These
proteins possess unique expression patterns; they are expressed primarily in
the testicular germ cells but are aberrantly expressed in several types of
cancer. However, the functions of most CTAs remains poorly understood. Using
bioinformatics, we found that most CTAs were Intrinsically Disordered Proteins
(IDPs), proteins that lack a rigid structure
at least in vitro, and are frequently
over-expressed in several pathological conditions. In fact, these proteins have
an innate ability to engage in promiscuous interactions and undergo a
transition from disorder to order a process referred to as coupled folding and
binding. This study provided a novel perspective
on the role of CTAs and underscored their potential role in information
processing and transfer. We also proposed a model based on how, despite
lack of structure, nascent disordered polypeptides emerging from the ribosome,
transiently bind to chaperones, thereby undergoing a disorder to order
transition and thus escaping proteasomal degradation. I worked on various
projects in Dr. Kulkarni's lab. Using various biochemical and structural
studies we were able to gain additional insight into the function of PAGE4
(Prostate associated gene 4) a CTA as well as an IDP.
research experience in Dr. Kulkarni's lab has helped me to channelize my
thoughts and focus my attention on how to think as a scientist and ask the
right questions. Furthermore, it made me aware that a scientist's mind has to
be facile enough to appreciate nature both from a systems perspective as well
as a reductionist perspective to fully appreciate how a system works regardless
of whether one is studying development or disease. My research
experience was primarily in biochemistry mainly protein chemistry and molecular
biology however at Columbia I wish to explore other areas like cell and
developmental biology where I could study the role of key protein networks in
development and disease.
from my passion for science, I enjoy reading, dancing (especially Zumba) and listening
to music. I also enjoy travelling and exploring new areas. I am looking forward
to a wonderful experience at Columbia University.