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Ved Topkar

MD/PhD student and OB/GYN applicant


Current Research

I currently work in the Das Lab studying the structure of viral and eukaryotic RNA molecules. After developing biochemical methods for characterizing RNA structures in vitro and in cellulo, I briefly worked on methods to characterize and improve the stability of mRNA vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

My thesis focuses on understanding sub-cellular localization of mRNA in oligodendrocytes – the cells responsible for myelination during brain development.

Past Research

Genome Editing

At the Joung Lab (Massachusetts General Hospital), I researched methods for improving the safety and specificity of the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology.

I contributed to the development of GUIDE-seq, a method for detecting off-target cleavage events induced by genome editing nucleases. A core part of my work was developing a streamlined computational pipeline for easy analysis of GUIDE-seq data.

Later, I contributed to the engineering and characterization of Cas9 variants to expand the targeting range of the CRISPR-Cas toolbox. For my senior thesis, I characterized Cas9 orthologues to expand the number of genomic locii that the CRISPR-Cas system can target.

To help biologists leverage the entire array of characterized Cas9 variants in their research, I created CasBLASTR, a tool for identifying and annotating CRISPR-Cas target sites.

Origins of Life

While at the Szostak Lab (Massachusetts General Hospital), I researched the processivity of RNA polymerase ribozymes from an origins of life perspective.


At the Gunawardena Lab (Harvard Medical School) I studied redundancies in epigenetic marks around human gene promoter regions.

Human Tissue Properties

In high school, I worked on modeling the propagation of microwaves through human tissue at the Popovic Lab (CU Boulder).