JCC Fellow Spotlight: Prerna Malaney
Dr. Prerna Malaney has the perfect name for an expert RNA biologist – although Prerna actually means inspiration in Sanskrit. Prerna traces her inspiration to be a scientist back to her father who always encouraged her childhood curiosity. She studied pharmacy as an undergraduate student due to her love for biology and chemistry. There Malaney developed a passion for understanding drug targets that continues in her work today.
Fundamentally, Malaney views herself as a cancer biologist. Her research focuses on RNA-binding proteins and understanding the role of RNA splicing in cancer. As a JCC Fellow in Dr. Sean Post’s lab at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Malaney searched for drugs targeting oncogenic RNA-binding proteins. She has had success with this ambitious drug-discovery project. Meanwhile, Malaney also took a unique opportunity in the area of neuroscience. Researchers working on Au Kline/Okamoto syndrome reached out to her postdoc lab due to their expertise in a particular RNA-binding protein that had been recently implicated in this rare disease. Although unsure about switching disease models at first, Prerna has found her niche in the fast-paced, collaborative, and applied world of translational research.
As her Fellowship comes to a close, Prerna encourages fellow JCC Fellows to explore broadly and to take bold risks. She credits her JCC cohort for encouraging and supporting her transition to study Au Kline syndrome. Furthermore, Malaney is thankful to JCC for taking a chance on her and her high-risk and inspirational research.