Joseph Mwangi, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has secured a new funding from Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) to support his research work. Last year, Joseph also won the Grand Prize for his research work at the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) annual conference. Earlier in his Ph.D. study, Joseph was one of the scholars in the National Science Foundation funded GK-12 program.

His research focuses on one of the essential biomolecules: Ribonucleic acid (RNA). Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) carries genetic information of the cell in form of genes which contains instructions for protein synthesis. This information is copied onto RNA which in turn is decoded to synthesize proteins. There are various types of RNA and may undergo chemical changes which affect the process of protein synthesis and thus, in humans, are linked to a number of neurological disorders, cancers and several other diseases. Some RNA molecules have been found to contain similar numbers of building units, nucleotides, which makes the process of analyzing them challenging.

This new funding will assist with developing a new method of measuring changes in these types of RNA which may eventually assist in disease diagnosis.