Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Current research: Angiostatic and angiogenic chemokines that may contribute to corneal avascularity
Ana Ojeda, a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, comes to Rice from her home in Ancud, a city in southern Chile on Chiloé Island. Ana said that when she visited the campus for her interview she fell in love with the architecture, the library, and the environment so much that she immediately wanted to join the graduate program. She has been surprised, in a positive way, by the many opportunities for international students to study in wide areas of interest.
Ojeda credits her undergraduate thesis advisor, Dr. Patricio Torres, for encouraging her to apply to graduate programs abroad. His selfless nature and passion for science continues to be a source of inspiration to her.
Ojeda is currently working in the Lwigale Lab under the direction of assistant professor Peter Lwigale where she is studying angiostatic and angiogenic chemokines that may contribute to corneal avascularity. Despite the considerable number of studies showing the significance of angiogenic factors and chemokines in vascular patterning, very little is known about the function of these molecules during eye development. Understanding the mechanism of corneal avascularity during development seems crucial to successfully treat diseases associated with corneal vascularization.
Ojeda plans to complete her Ph.D., focusing her research on developmental biology, cornea development, vasculogenesis and angiogenesis. She would like to return to Chile and work as a high-quality researcher and teacher with close collaborative ties to international research teams. She says: “I could apply everything that I am learning here, and share the wonderful experience that I had as an international student in the U.S.”