John Nelson

I received my B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2016 and am currently preparing for admission to an M.D./Ph.D. program. My work in Dr. Gale’s lab has generally been focused on designing and testing a device for John Nelsonchromosome purification. Such a device would enable the development of an improved intercellular chromosome transfer process.

Main Project: Chromosome Purification

For the past 40 years, geneticists have been using a microcell mediated chromosome transfer (MMCT) process to transfer chromosomes from one cell line to another. However, in many cases MMCT causes damage to chromosomal structure and base pair sequence. As a result it would be advantageous to develop an alternative method that would reduce damage to the chromosomes. One potential process involves the transfer of chromosomes into a host cell after cell lysis, however other cellular material that accompany the chromosome promote the chance of apoptosis. In order to prevent apoptosis, we are attempting to separate chromosomes from all other cellular material. This is being accomplished through the use of a size separation method known as viscoelastic focusing within a spiral channel.

Secondary project: Zebrafish genotyping

Zebrafish are a useful organism for drug screenings, toxicity testing, and developmental testing due both to quick reproduction times and low-cost maintenance. However, one limitation to their use in research has been the amount of time required to test these organisms for the presence of specific genes. Currently researchers are required to wait several weeks post fertilization before being able to obtain a tissue sample that can then be genotyped. This is a problem as much of the testing done on zebrafish is done in the first couple weeks of life. However, previous work in our lab indicates that we should be able to genotype embryos at only 24-48 hours post fertilization. We are currently designing and testing a device which will be able to automatically genotype and sort hundreds of embryos giving researchers access to valuable information before they begin testing rather than after it is finished.