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Spotlight Story

Robyn Jimenez
Genomics as a powerful and informative tool to investigate a human endocrine disease.

Robyn Jimenez is a genetics Ph.D. candidate, working with Dr. Martin Privalsky in the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department. She earned my BS in biochemistry and molecular biology from UC Davis in 2010. Her background and experience range from developing markers to detect fungus in agricultural crops to constructing viral vectors for mammalian cell culture. Before entering the doctoral program, JimenezI worked at the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology.

What is important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

My research focuses on a human endocrine disease, resistance to thyroid hormone (RTH), caused by defects in thyroid hormone receptors (TRs). Endocrine disorders often lead to metabolic diseases, diabetes and cancer. My project takes a broad look at individuals who do not respond to thyroid hormone due to mutations in TRs, and explores the consequential effects on gene expression that ultimately result in disease manifestation.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

I decided to pursue a doctorate in genetics because the explosion of “omics” technologies is quickly advancing biological science from bench to bedside. My two greatest passions—genetics and human health—culminate in my research. With these objectives in mind, I have designed my thesis project to use genomics as a powerful and informative tool to investigate a human endocrine disease.

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you change the world?

Ph.D.s. need flexibility and skill to deal with scientific and business/managerial aspects when working in industry. I look forward to working with other graduate students from a diverse set of backgrounds to understand how commercialized science requires and uses various skills and knowledge. I want to learn what challenges lay ahead in small technology startups, and how to translate a solid, scientific idea into a marketable service or product.