Visiting Ph.D. Student from Ocean University of China: Siping Li
Siping Li is a 3rd-year Ph.D. student visiting IMET from the Ocean University of China (OUC). Through an agreement between the two institutions, there is funding and support for several students from OUC to conduct research at IMET. Li is working in the lab of Jim Du, studying the function of the gene smyhc1 in sarcomere organization during zebrafish slow muscle development.
What are you researching?
I’m researching a gene named smyhc1 and its function in regulating myofibrillogenesis during skeletal muscle development. We use a certain technique - CRISPR/Cas9 - to knockout this gene from zebrafish and observe phenotypic changes in mutant fish. Smyhc1 is important for the organization of sarcomere in slow muscles, which is a highly organized contractile unit in muscle fibers.
Why does your research make a difference?
Defective sarcomere organization in skeletal and cardiac muscle could cause muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathies. Zebrafish studies may help us understand these diseases in humans. In addition, skeletal muscle is one of the most important traits of fish in aquaculture. This research will help improve the quality of fish raised in aquaculture.
Why did you choose IMET and how did you get interested in what you’re researching?
The Ocean University of China has a collaboration with IMET to offer opportunities for us to study here. I saw Dr. Du give a seminar about CRISPR/Cas9 and muscle development. I was excited to come to IMET and work with him to learn new techniques. I also became interested in this because of how beautiful the sarcomere structure is.
Highly ordered sarcomere organization of slow muscle fibers in 24 hpf zebrafish when staining with an anti-slow myosin heavy chain antibody F59
What stands out most about your time at IMET?
In April 2018, I joined some students, faculty, and staff who went to the March for Science in Washington, D.C. This event showed the need for funding of scientific initiatives including research and education. Many people spoke about the importance of science and the ways that it can make a difference in the world.
What are your future plans and goals?
At IMET, I have broadened my knowledge of gene function and regulation and learned about a wide variety of research through weekly seminars held here. I will bring this new knowledge to my future work. Building on the experience gained from studies in zebrafish, I will be able to apply the CRISPR/Cas9 technology to commercially important fish species and make a significant contribution to fish aquaculture in China.
Thank you to the Ocean University of China and the China Scholarship Council for their support for Siping Li and other students currently conducting research at IMET.