FIU alumna develops new tools for genome editing and precision medicine

Bacterial resistance is becoming an increasing issue in clinical settings.

Zhou headshot

FIU alumna and scientist at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company is working on cell therapy innovation with hopes of translating systems from molecular biology into patient care. Mentored by Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh, Qingxuan Zhou characterizes molecular pathways relevant to the regulation of the topoisomerase enzyme in bacteria, which helps understand various phenotypes related to bacterial growth and infection. Characterizing these critical pathways related to bacterial growth might invite future translational investigation for the development of new antibiotics.

In 2019, Zhou began her journey as a postdoctoral associate at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her molecular biology and biochemistry training equipped her with the necessary tools to do advanced technologies, including digital PCR, next-generation seq, high-throughput screening and genome editing fields such as CRISPR genome editing. CRISPR, a bacterial protein, is a powerful tool particularly useful for mammalian cell gene editing. As a postdoc, she developed a new CRISPR tool with a function that could be precisely controlled. Despite the increasing application of CRISPR in molecular genomics, the low editing efficacy of CRISPR systems remains an unresolved problem. The hope is that the tool will contribute to more precise control. This is essential for ultimately using CRISPR tools as therapeutics in patients. Her current focus is on leveraging gene editing for immune cell therapies with the ultimate goal of developing adoptive cellular therapies for cancer patients.