Sarah Cameron


Faculty Mentor: Alexander van Oudenaarden

Direct Supervisor: Annalisa Pawlosky

Home University: Virginia Commonwealth University

Major: Biomedical Engineering



I grew up in Springfield, Virginia right outside of Washington D.C. and have loved the city my whole life. I currently attend Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I am a junior perusing a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. I am really interested in the connections between engineering and medicine and would like to continue to explore that. I am interested in immunology and would like to work on vaccine development in the future.  I hope to obtain a PhD in Biomedical Engineering and continue to do research. In my free time I enjoy music, and hanging out with my friends and family.


Single cell approach to the mRNA transcript level of HER2

The goal of this study is to investigate whether DNA copy number influences messenger RNA (mRNA) transcription level. To discover whether increased levels of mRNA transcription can arise from additional DNA loci, we compared mRNA transcription levels in three separate cell lines by using a high resolution single molecule fluorescent in situ hybridization (smFISH) technique. We compared mRNA transcript level of human lung epithelial cells, human mammary epithelial cells, and overexpression (SKBR3) cells. We choose these cells lines due to their DNA copy number.  Our preliminary studies with high resolution DNA FISH found that human lung epithelial cells and human mammary epithelial cells have normal DNA copy number.  Literature indicates that SKBR3 cells have additional copies of the HER2 loci (1).  Previous studies have shown that additional copies of select genes, such as HER2, can lead to overproduction of protein, which is thought to be linked some HER2 related cancers (2).  Increased levels of protein could arise from many points along the path from DNA to protein.  Our research aims to use this single cell data to isolate and analyze the mechanism from DNA to mRNA, and gain a new understand of the overexpression of proteins.