Ahlan Sabah Ferdous, an IPiB graduate student, will be defending her Ph.D. research on May 22, 2023.
Ferdous, a member of the Kimble Lab, has focused her thesis research on the molecular regulation of stem cells — undifferentiated cells that have not yet been assigned a specific identity, such as becoming a liver cell or skin cell. Her research, published in Development, explores the molecular mechanisms that help tissue maintain the balance between stem cells and other kinds of cells. This balance helps to prevent the tissue from becoming over- or under-grown.
“My specific focus is on a novel protein – LST-1 – and the molecular mechanisms it uses to control stem cells. My research has been trying to understand what exactly the protein is doing,” says Ferdous.
Through her thesis work, Ferdous discovered two roles that LST-1 plays in regulating the balance between stem cells and differentiated cells. One part of the protein was found to regulate RNAs and drive stem cells to maintain themselves as stem cells. Another part of LST-1 regulates gene transcription in the nucleus and facilitates differentiation of stem cells into specialized cells (for example, liver or skin cells). Prior to Ferdous’s research, the bipartite nature of this protein was not understood.
Ferdous, a Kamaluddin Ahmad Distinguished Graduate Scholar, plans to continue her work as a post-doctoral researcher in the United States before returning to her home continent of Asia.
“Eventually, I’d like to do research in somewhere in Singapore or in a country in Asia with strong research opportunities,” says Ferdous. “I am from Bangladesh where there aren’t as many research opportunities right now. But I’m hoping that at some point I can go back and do some research there, too.”
Ferdous looks back on her time as an international student at UW–Madison fondly. She found a supportive, collaborative environment in IPiB and as part of the university community. This was especially crucial during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when she was unable to visit family abroad.
“During the pandemic, the IPiB community really supported our international students. People showed a lot of compassion,” says Ferdous. “Academically, it’s a very enriching environment, but there’s so much more here. IPiB is a very dynamic and interactive community.”
Ferdous has been involved with several campus-wide groups, including the Muslim Students Association, the Bangladesh Student Organization, and the Asian Student Organization.
To learn more about Ferdous’s research, attend her Ph.D. defense on Monday, May 22, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. CT in Room 1211 of the DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Building.