Harrison School of Pharmacy
Graduate Student Directory
Degree: Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Science
Degree Option: Pharmacology
Anticipated Completion: 2018
Advisor: Nancy Merner
Madison Chandler, a native of Vestavia Hills, Alabama, attended Vestavia Hills High School before moving to Rome, Georgia, where sheearned my bachelor of science degree in biochemistry (A.C.S. certified) in May of 2014. While at Berry College, she was a teacher’s assistant for general, organic, and analytical chemistry laboratory courses as well as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Kevin Hoke, which resulted in the publication of one research article and abstract.
In August 2014, she began her Ph.D. in Pharmacology in the Department of Drug Discovery and Development at the Harrison School of Pharmacy. Her dissertation, under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Merner, aims to identify novel genetic risk factors that contribute towards breast cancer (BC) disparities; specifically, African American women have a higher incidence rate of BC under the age of 45 compared to Caucasians. Considering that an early age of onset is a hallmark of hereditary BC, Dr. Merner has established two IRB-approved recruitment protocols, hospital (#14-232) and community-based (#15-111), to recruit African American BC affected individuals/families and identify genetic risk factors.
She underwent phlebotomy certification and participated in community-based recruitment sessions which involve a consent process and a blood draw. After receiving blood samples from both recruitment modes, she extracts and stores DNA from each participant in the Merner DNA bank. She has screened 44 cancer affected individuals for 87 known and candidate BC susceptibility genes using an Agilent Technologies Haloplex custom-designed probe capture kit followed by massively parallel sequencing.
The samples were pooled and sent for next-generation sequencing at the Genomic Services Laboratory at HudsonAlpha. After receiving the sequencing files, she developed an in-house bioinformatics pipeline to process the data and call variants using SureCall (a software provided by Agilent Technologies). After gene exclusion is carried out, mutation-negative individuals/families will be whole-genome sequenced in order to identify novel BC susceptibility genes. Ultimately, thiss effort will increase the understanding of BC genetics and disparities by studying the Alabama population.
Last Updated: March 8, 2017