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01-31-2013

Clarkson University Researcher Cintia Hongay Explores Cells in Action

Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Biology Cintia Hongay was among an elite few scientists invited to the week-long Gordon Research Conference, held early in January in Galveston, Texas.

Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Biology Cintia HongayWhile there, she spoke at both the seminar and conference, and had the opportunity to mingle with colleagues who are prominent in her field of RNA research.

“The meeting was very exciting and I was honored that my work was cited,” she says.

As a younger researcher and a minority, she was also awarded the Carl Storm Underrepresented Minority (CSURM) Fellowship to defray the cost of attending the conference.

Her research, simply put, involves RNA and how it affects development, including the switch to cell division, gametogenesis -- the process that creates eggs, sperm or spores -- and how the regulation of these processes seem to have a common denominator: the gene (IME4) that encodes an RNA methylase.

Hongay has studied this gene in yeast, Drosophila, and now zebrafish, in collaboration with Biology Professor Ken Wallace’s lab at Clarkson. By investigating this gene in these model organisms, she hopes to get closer to its function in humans.

RNA governs how the genetic code is expressed, Hongay explains. The budding field of RNA modifications in development adds a layer of complexity to gene regulation. If the RNA doesn’t function properly, that may lead to uncontrolled cell growth and diseases such as cancer.

Hongay joined the faculty at Clarkson in 2011. She received her bachelor of science degree from Suffolk University and her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Before coming to Clarkson, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., and a research associate at Harvard. She was also a lecturer at Suffolk and a teaching assistant at Harvard.

Hongay is the lead author in three ground-breaking publications and has earned high post-peer review rankings for them. One of her studies has been cited by more than 270 publications since its release.

She shares her explorations through teaching and works with a graduate student and five undergrads in her lab at Clarkson.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/chongay.jpg.]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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