Q&A with Enrico Barrozo

Genetics & Genomics Graduate Student in the lab of David Bloom, a UFGI faculty member and professor in the department of molecular genetics and microbiology
Barrozo joined the program in 2015
This interview has been condensed, and edited, for clarity

Can you tell me about the research you do in Dr. Bloom’s lab?

I am in Dr. David Bloom’s lab where we study the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). This virus is the cause of common cold sores. After primary infection, HSV-1 goes latent in sensory neurons for life. Our lab focuses on latency and once the virus goes latent, there is typically one transcript expressed. This locus is known as the “latency associated transcript” (LAT). My projects focus on the microRNAs that are encoded in the LAT region. MiRNAs are small RNAs that are involved in gene regulation. The biological function(s) of many of the HSV-1-encoded miRNAs remain unknown. Right now, I am characterizing the replication phenotypes of some of the miRNAs deletion mutants in vitro.

What has your experience been like in the G&G program?

I was interested in the Genetics & Genomics Graduate Program, because it is strictly focused on genetics and genomics. I took part in a Post-Baccalaureate Education Program where I learned first-hand what life was like as a graduate student. I decided not to go into an umbrella biology program because I wanted to focus my graduate training on genetics from the beginning. I really like the program so far. In my first year, it was very challenging because I had to complete all of the courses required for my graduate program in on semester, while also working in the lab. I am benefitting from this rigorous program now, and am currently taking classes like virology, immunology, and molecular therapy where I’m able to start specializing on topics specific to my field.

How has the G&G program shaped your skills as a researcher?

With this program I was able to choose my rotations based on what kind of mentor style I needed. For me, I wanted kind of a hands off mentor. I have experience in research and molecular biology skills, so with this program I was able to pick the mentors that matched my needs. I’ve really found a great fit here in the Bloom lab. If I really need something, Dr. Bloom’s door is always open and my lab mates have been very helpful. Also, if I want to start a project on my own, I can talk to my mentor about it, and begin to develop the skills necessary to create my own independent research.

What do you plan to do you after you graduate?

After I graduate, I’m interested in academia. This program has really given us a great opportunity with our Friday seminars where we go in-depth about the different research positions you pursue after graduation. We talk about industry, government and academic positions. I know it would be tough to go into academia, but I feel like I am gaining the knowledge I need to become a successful faculty member.