BY JOANNA MALFAVON-BORJA
2012 CSUSM Student Research Competition Finalist

Having the opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate has helped direct me in my aspirations for a career in biomedical research. The techniques and assays I have learned have made me a better competitor and candidate to enter into a doctoral program. I have gained a foundation of theories and skills that will put me ahead in graduate school and allow me to launch into a research project sooner.
Quote by Joanna Malfavon-Borja
About my Research
Working in Dr. Garcia’s lab, my work focuses on furthering our understanding of the genes involved in the innate immune response. I am studying the differences in gene response/expression in the shrimp Litopenaeus stylirostris infected with the hypodermal and hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHHNV). Using a technique called quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR), I can study previously identified genes in this shrimp and quantitate the genetic response differences towards IHHNV. The variability in response levels need to be normalized to a reference gene that maintains a steady, non-responsive pattern to IHHNV. This particular portion of my overall laboratory project involved my search for the most suitable reference gene to use in my qPCR studies.

Out of five candidate reference genes that I examined, I have determined one as the most suitable to use under my particular experimental parameters. I now can continue on with my qPCR project and properly normalize my data to this reference gene in order to obtain more valid and meaningful results. More insight into innate immunity and future therapeutic targets can come from understanding the genetic response of the host to a pathogenic challenge.

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Joanna Malfavon-Borja is among the twelve finalists representing CSUSM at the 26th annual statewide Student Research Competition held at CSU Long Beach on May 4-5. Hear firsthand how her research is leading to new discoveries, positively impacting her education and propeling her toward her future aspirations.

Graduate Studies and Research