The results of her survey, revealed in January, is an “atlas” of how particular person transcription elements have an effect on the id of stem cells. Joung says she has seen neurons, beating coronary heart muscle, and placenta cells seem underneath her microscope. However the final aim, she says, “is to have the ability to make any cell kind, and in a really managed manner.”
Provides of particular cells might be helpful for testing medicine or new sorts of therapies. Different scientists learning transcription elements hope to search out combos that may type human eggs within the lab and even present the important thing to rejuvenation therapies. “We aren’t simply producing lists after we display screen. It’s an inventory with a objective,” says Joung. “There’s at all times that finish aim.”
Genetic screening is “huge” science—Joung’s PhD work relied on 17 collaborators. And it’s costly, too. Simply buying all of the genes she wanted value $550,000, cash Joung was in a position to elevate from Broad’s Stanley Middle for Psychiatric Analysis, amongst others.
However the bodily scale of the work is usually microscopic. The genes arrive as ephemera in plastic tubes. A lot of the motion occurs in cell-culture rooms, the place trainees in white coats work elbow to elbow in entrance of particular workbenches, lined with plexiglass. Ultimately, Joung’s experiment concerned over 1,000,000 cells. But all of those cells would, collectively, be smaller than a single fruit fly.
Joung hasn’t gotten round to answering the query about these astrocytes that piqued her curiosity as an undergrad. And she or he admits it’s not her prime precedence anymore. Now, as a postdoc on the Whitehead Institute, additionally in Cambridge, she’s utilizing her screening method to dig into elementary questions on how proteins are made inside cells.
“Julia is a technically sensible and conceptually daring scientist who’s constructing instruments that present distinctive and complete views of advanced processes,” says Jonathan Weissman, who leads the Whitehead lab wherein Joung now works.