Jake Potts is a bioengineering student at Northeastern University who will earn a doctoral degree in genetics. He is a member of the Northeastern University Symphony Orchestra where he plays solo and ensemble violin. At the same time, he is also a member of the Harvard Medical School Chamber Music Society. Potts calls himself a composer whose imagination comes alive in the lab as he inscribes genetic code, and also a musician who is held captive to the whims of a conductor leading a string ensemble.
Potts has cultivated strong chemistry and biology skills required to work in gene editing at the Northeastern. His brilliance has made him help in developing better cancer detection methods from improved computational image processing. Participating in a Dialogue of Civilisations program in Chile, he has acquired and analysed samples of microbes from the Atacama Desert to search for new antibiotics. He also completed a semester abroad in Paris, where he joined a Sorbonne University lab and applied bioengineering concepts to optimise a protocol to study DNA resilience in tardigrades. Furthermore, he has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship, which provides grants for research projects or English teaching assistant programs. Potts will use the scholarship to return to the Sorbonne to study mutations in DNA repair genes. He wants to try to determine how certain cancerous mutations happen as DNA is misrepaired. It is a process that occurs when radiation or harsh chemicals break the two strands of our DNA, and our cells respond by trying to repair this damage. His research could result in therapeutic strategies to prevent or slow the progression of cancer. Potts says he was proud and elated to have been chosen for the Fulbright.
“It felt like a validation of how I chose to approach genetics research. I decided early on here at Northeastern that by working in various labs and thus putting myself into more environments where I have to learn anew, I’d gain a broader exposure to techniques and ideas, and challenge myself to be more creative”, says Potts.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman