Project Report

Using a recently designed and implemented technique for structural biology, I studied the major molecule responsible for production of small signals that function to silence genes and several viruses involved in human disease. The National Science Foundation (NSF) East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) Fellowship allowed me to perform this research at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Japan, which possesses one of the only instruments in the world capable of utilizing this technique, under the supervision of Dr. Kuniaki Nagayama and Dr. Kazuyoshi Murata, who designed and implemented the technology. I discovered the structural basis for how human Dicer initiates gene silencing from two different precursor molecules and how host cells may recognize viral particles based on their architecture. This work on Dicer and viruses lays the foundation for broad impacts on designing molecules for gene "knockdown" in basic genetics research and development of drugs and/or vaccines for worldwide treatment, respectively. More importantly, I learned the theory and practice of this new technique from the experts in this field. By performing research at the National Institute for Physiological Sciences as a NSF EAPSI Fellow in Japan, I provided my Japanese colleagues with a unique opportunity to interact and collaborate with an American scientist. I was also able to teach a workshop at this host institution devoted to practical approaches using a technique I mastered as a graduate student at Yale University. The host institution also held an Open Institute, where the general public from nearby communities came to learn a brief introduction to the research of different laboratories. I participated in planning and execution of this event with my host researchers. Together, these opportunities allowed me to integrate research with education for scientists and the public in an international setting. Most importantly, as a NSF EAPSI Fellow in Japan, I was able to learn a great deal concerning culture, language, and life in a foreign country. I visited cultural and historical sites including Okazaki, Mt. Fuji, Kamakura, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nagoya. I stayed with a host family on two occasions during the duration of the award. The insight I gained by being a foreign researcher should help me to actively contribute to an international research community and reach underrepresented minorities in both mentoring and teaching in the future.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
Application #
Program Officer
Carter Kimsey
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Taylor David W
New Haven
United States
Zip Code