Semanti Mukherjee Successfully Defends Thesis

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pictured: Semanti Mukherjee

About Semanti Mukherjee’s Dissertation Research

Semanti worked on her thesis project under the guidance of Robert Klein in the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program. Her project focused on the genetic variants that contribute to predisposition for and etiology of myeloproliferative neoplasms, or MPNs. She used various computational and statistical genetics approaches to analyze and integrate data generated from high-throughput technologies. In a genome-wide-association study, she and her lab colleagues, in collaboration with Ross Levine of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, found a germline susceptibility variant for MPN in JAK2, a gene known to acquire a somatic mutation in MPN patients. This work was published in Nature Genetics (Nat Genet. 2009 Apr;41(4):455-9. Epub 2009 Mar 15). Since then, she has focused on developing statistical methods to use publicly available genotype data as additional controls in genome-wide-association studies (published in Human Heredity. 2011;72(1):21-34. Epub 2011 Aug 17) and in the targeted analysis of JAK2 risk locus. She and colleagues have observed that the JAK2 susceptibility haplotype is an ancestral haplotype compared to the modern human population.

“I learned a tremendous amount in Dr. Klein’s lab while working towards my thesis project,” Semanti says. “Dr. Klein supported and motivated me throughout my thesis while allowing me the room to work in my own way. As a result, my graduate school experience was rewarding for me. I was fortunate to work in close collaboration with Dr. Ross Levine on the MPN project. I also had continuous support and advice from Dr. Kenneth Offit and Dr. Christina Leslie (both of whom were on my thesis committee). I did my clinical rotation with Dr. Zsofia Stadler in the genetic counseling clinics as part of my GSK curriculum.”

Semanti graduated summa cum laude with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Nagpur University, in India. Before joining the Gerstner Sloan Kettering PhD program, she worked for four years in biomedical research labs in various places including Stanford University (2006-2007), the University of California, San Francisco (2005), the Indian Institute of Science India (2004), and the Singapore Institute of Science (2003).

She has recently joined Todd Lencz’s group in the laboratory of analytical genomics, Division of Psychiatry Research, at Zucker Hillside Hospital, North Shore Long Island Jewish Medical Center, as a research scientist. Semanti will be involved in whole-genome-sequencing projects in schizophrenia patients and healthy controls of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry to understand the underlying genetic factors in schizophrenia.