Nick Richards ’12 was a member of a research team whose article, “CTCF-binding elements mediate control of V(D)J recombination,” was recently published in Nature, an international weekly science journal. The article presents the results of work conducted at the Departments of Genetics and Molecular Medicine at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital/Immune Disease Institute.
Richards, a biology major, worked on the project as an immunology research assistant during the past two summers. Originally submitted to Nature last year as a letter, the paper was suggested for more prestigious publication as an article based on its significant contribution to the field of immunology.
Richards’ research dealt with the identification of a region of the chromosome responsible for maximizing the diversity and specificity of the antibody response. The team, through a series of tests conducted on mice, identified a regulatory region they are terming Intergenic Control Region 1, which facilitates proper assembly of antibodies by bending chromosomes into large loops to bring together distant parts of the chromosome.
Richards worked in the laboratory of Dr. Frederick W. Alt, a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and director and president of the Immune Disease Institute, during the summer of 2010. He returned to the lab this past summer and worked with postdoctoral researcher Chunguang Guo, the paper’s first author, to prepare the article for publication. In addition to research, Richards helped edit the text and figures in the article’s supplementary information section.