Janhavi Kolhe: Recipient of the Tom and Cynthia Cycyota Research Scholarship

PhD student Janhavi Kolhe is a member of Dr. Brian Freeman's lab in the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology. She is a recipient of the Tom and Cynthia Cycyota Research Scholarship.

Tell us where you grew up and about any people or events that had an influence on your education.

I grew up in India. Nobody in my family, immediate as well as extended family, has ever pursued life sciences at the PhD level. I was really interested in biology because of my high school biology teacher. It was my favorite class in school and that’s how I ended up pursuing biology at the Indian Institute of Science.

Tell us about the lab you joined and your research pursuits.

I joined Dr. Brian Freeman’s lab as I was really excited about the research opportunities in his lab, and I really appreciate his method of mentoring. He has an open-door policy, and I can stop by his office at any time to troubleshoot my experiments. He is always looking out for his students’ professional and personal well-being.

My PhD thesis involves using the novel technique of Benzoyl Phenylalanine crosslinking at a high throughput level to identify in vivo physical interactors of the molecular chaperone Hsp90. An essential chaperone in eukaryote, Hsp90 plays a role in cancer, infectious diseases and aging and is the target of many therapeutic drugs. Understanding its role in various cellular process could help with the design of better drugs or therapeutic approaches for different disease conditions.

I have worked on other projects in the lab including studying the players involved in chromosome motion, understanding transcription factor DNA binding dynamics, and have also used the interactome I have generated to pursue new pathways Hsp90 might be involved in such as translation and splicing.

Proudest moment so far while a PhD student?

My proudest moment so far while a PhD student at UIUC would be presenting two different talks at the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference on Stress Proteins in Growth, Development and Disease.

What are your plans after graduating?

I am hoping to further my research experience after graduating by carrying out postdoctoral work in a lab working on developmental immunology or cancer. From there I would like to transition to industry as a consultant or scientist.

How do you find fulfillment outside the lab?

I love to cook and bake and try to find something interesting to bake as often as I can. I also enjoy acting, dancing, and singing and have been in a few (local theater) shows. During the lockdown last year, I even did some carpentry and designed a little kitchen table for my lab mate from scratch, which was a lot of fun!

January 20, 2022 All News