2017 Gewirtz Memorial Scholarship Winner: Karyn Schmidt, PhD

Karyn Schmidt, PhD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Talk Title: Inhibiting the Androgen Receptor Interaction with the Long Non-Coding RNA SLNCR using 2’-FANA-Modified Oligonucleotides Decreases Melanoma Invasion and Proliferation.

Biography: Karyn Schmidt received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Rochester in 2013, where she studied in the laboratory of J. Scott Butler. There, her work focused on determining the specificity of nuclear RNA degradation mediated by the TRAMP polyadenylation complex. Wishing to apply her fundamental protein-RNA biochemical expertise to clinically relevant questions, she next joined Carl Novina’s lab at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School. Her post-doctoral work has functionally characterized a novel long non-coding RNA, SLNCR, which regulates melanoma invasion and proliferation through ligand-independent regulation of the androgen receptor (AR). Intriguingly, this work provides a possible mechanistic explanation for the long-established melanoma gender bias in which men suffer worse outcomes than women. After careful biochemical characterization, Karyn designed single stranded RNA oligos to sterically block the SLNCR-AR interaction, decreasing both melanoma invasion and proliferation. Karyn is deeply committed to the advancement of oligonucleotide therapies and has recently joined Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to continue in these efforts.

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