Congratulations to Doris Wong, Recipient of an NIH F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

Doris Wong was awarded an NIH F31 individual predoctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in March of 2021. At the time of her award, Doris was a third year PhD candidate in Clint Miller’s lab in the Center for Public Health Genomics pursuing her PhD in the Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics graduate program. The research interests of the Miller lab are centered around coronary artery disease (CAD). Although hundreds of loci have been identified that contribute to CAD risk, the mechanisms underlying most of these loci are unknown. This gap limits the utility of these large-scale genetic studies in the clinic. Doris’s project aimed to define the mechanism underlying the genetic association of a new locus, UFL1-FHL5 with CAD and myocardial infarction. She performed statistical fine-mapping integrating genetics and artery tissue expression data to implicate FHL5 as the top candidate causal gene, with FHL5 predicted to play a detrimental role in increasing cardiovascular disease risk. Given the reported role of FHL5 as a cofactor, she mapped FHL5 binding sites in smooth muscle cells and highlighted downstream regulatory interactions that may contribute, at least in part, to its vascular disease associations. When asked what motivates her scientific pursuits, Doris highlighted her curiosity about the inner workings of a cell and the processes that go awry during disease. She completed her PhD studies and defended her dissertation in September of 2022. Doris is currently a research scientist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston, MA. Where she is pursuing her ultimate goal or working at a pharmaceutical company where she can play a small part in bringing transformative medicines to patients with an unmet clinical need