RNA Featured Researcher – Becky Glineburg, Neurology



Becky Glineburg, Ph.D.
Neurology, Medical School

Faculty-Mentor: Peter Todd, M.D., Ph.D.

Google Scholar

I’m fascinated with how nucleic acid structure dictates various molecular pathways and mechanisms. Currently I’m investigating how GC-rich RNA repeat expansions promote an aberrant form of translation (RAN translation) and how this process contributes to neurodegenerative disease. I am also investigating how cellular stress regulates RAN translation in a number of neurodegenerative disease models.

How does RNA relate to your research interests, and why?
I study translation, so my entire research is based on how RNA structure promotes RAN translation in disease models.

How did you become interested in this topic?
In graduate school I studied DNA repair pathways and discovered that formation of various DNA repair intermediates influence DNA repair pathway choice. When I was looking for postdoc positions, I wanted to study another example of how nucleic acid structure can influence molecular pathways. When I came across Peter’s research on repeat expansion disorders and RAN translation I was immediately hooked.

Who/what brought you to science?
I’ve always been drawn to biology. When I was young this manifested as a love of animals and a desire to learn about their evolutionary adaptations. When I got older, I became interested in human genetic diseases and forensics. Eventually, I discovered most of my burning questions could be answered by understanding molecular biology, so that’s what’s kept me going since.

What brought you to the University of Michigan?
Honestly? A lake house. But when I started researching the breadth labs at Michigan I began to realize I hit the jackpot.

What are the main challenges/concerns to achieve your professional goals?
I absolutely love teaching and I have a tendency to put my students and trainees before my research. I want to eventually teach at a primarily undergraduate institution, but I know the road there requires a balance of both teaching and research.

What’s your favorite hobby?
I have a 15-month-old child, so I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a hobby… but I probably enjoy photography, writing stupid poems or song parodies for my friends, and feeding farm and zoo animals (is that a hobby?) the most.

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