I discovered science research as a freshman in college, working in an evolutionary biology lab at Penn State University, that works on discovering and characterizing species in the Caribbean islands and conservation in the region. I also did research in a virology lab at the Fox Chase Cancer Center that works to better understanding what makes the hepatitis B and hepatitis delta viruses tick, and a tumor biology lab at the University of Pennsylvania that studies important molecular pathways that can transform normal cells into cancerous ones.
In every laboratory, I had the privilege of having great scientific mentors such that I had no doubt that I wanted to pursue a PhD. I entered the department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University as a graduate student where I studied the fundamental process of how cells make copies of their genomes for cell division to better understand how errors in this process can lead to something called genomic instability, which is a characteristic of cancer.
My Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals
Azvolinsky A., Giresi P.G., Lieb J.D., Virginia A. Zakian. Highly transcribed RNA polymerase II genes are impediments to replication fork progression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Molecular Cell June 26;34(6): 722-734. 2009. ARTICLE PDF
Azvolinsky A., Dunaway S., Torres J.Z., Bessler J.B., Virginia A. Zakian. The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rrrm3p DNA helicase moves with the replication fork and affects replication of all yeast chromosomes. Genes and Development Nov. 15 20 (22): 3104-3106; 2006. ARTICLE PDF
Fachinetti D., Bermejo R., Cocito A., Minardi S., Katou Y., Kanoh Y., Shirahige K., Azvolinsky A., Zakian V.A., Marco Foiani. Replication termination at eukaryotic chromosomes is mediated by Top2 and occurs at genomic loci containing pausing elements. Molecular Cell August 27;39(4); 595-605. 2010. ARTICLE PDF
These publications help to clarify how and why specific sites in the genome-many that are conserved from yeast to humans-are difficult to replication and are often the sites in the genome that break in pre-cancerous and cancerous cells.
Cozma D., Yu D., Hodawadekar S., Azvolinsky A., Grande S., Tobias J.W., Metzgar M.H., Paterson J., Erikson J., Marafioti T., Monroe J.G., Atchison M.L., Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko. B cell activator PAX5 promotes lymphomagenesis through stimulation of B cell receptor signaling. The Journal of Clinical Investigation Sept.1 17(9): 2602-2610; 2007. ARTICLE PDF
Explanation of the research from Penn News
Gudima S., Chang J., Moraleda G., Azvolinsky A., John Taylor. Parameters of human hepatitis delta virus genome replication: the quantity, quality, and intracellular distribution of viral proteins and RNA. Journal of Virology April; 76(8): 3709-3719. 2002. ARTICLE PDF