Cancer Researcher, Medical Student & Science Geek
I am Subramanian Venkatesan (just call me Mani) and if I have to put a label on myself, I would choose: cancer researcher, medical student & science geek.
I started medical school at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and immediately fell in love with science. At the neuroscience department I worked on neuroanatomy of a novel cerebellar nucleus. Wanting to do more patient-related research I completed a Masters in Neuroscience focusing on personalised medicine in glioblastoma multiforme. Towards the end of this research period I got recruited to pursue a PhD at the Francis Crick Institute in London. Here I investigated the involvement of APOBEC in breast and lung cancer. Now back in medical school I’m trying to broaden my skill set with bioinformatics.
This website is an attempt to collect my thoughts in the form of occasional blog posts. This blog will mainly revolve around cancer research and medicine. My hope is that it might also bring value to others. I would be very eager to learn from you, so if you want to share insights, recommendations, or any other pieces of inspiration, just send me an email on m.venkatesan(at)nki.nl and I might incorporate it in the next blog post. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
About my PhD: Investigating the regulation and function of APOBEC3 in cancer
My PhD at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London focused on the regulation of APOBEC3 gene expression and its role in genome stability in lung and breast cancer. First of all, what is APOBEC3? APOBEC3 is a collection of 7 anti-viral genes that mutate/change the DNA of viruses. Making a long story short, it mutates viruses and renders them inactive. However, recent discoveries have found that APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B also mutate the DNA of cancer cells! There is strong evidence that these genes make cancer cells more diverse which likely enables them to become more adaptive to immune pressure and anti-cancer treatments. In addition, if APOBEC3 fails to inactivate viruses, it can actually make them stronger! The saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” holds true even in the context of cancer cells and viruses (and yes even COVID-19 appears to be modified by APOBEC3). Check out my review, if you want more in depth information on how APOBEC3 is involved in the evolution of viruses and cancer cells (https://www.annalsofoncology.org/article/S0923-7534(19)35515-2/fulltext ). APOBEC3 is involved in mutating the DNA of many different cancer types and it also seems to mutate viruses such as the coronavirus.
I’m currently a medical student at Erasmus University Medical Center based in Rotterdam. In my next research endeavours I’ll be working with René Bernards and his team to tackle senescence in cancer.
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