Vitiello Lab Research

Human Molecular Genetics

Novel polymorphisms are often identified in patients who undergo whole exome genetic testing. Because they are newly identified, the exact nature of these polymorphisms, such as the effects on disease progression, is unreported in the literature. In collaboration with scientists at Sanford Research, my lab aims to understand these polymorphisms using molecular biology techniques on cells and DNA derived from patients. Because new polymorphisms are constantly being uncovered, the exact projects vary from year to year, but one example of a project is characterization of two polymorphisms in the TARS2 gene. Whole exome sequencing identified two novel variants within the TARS2 gene in a pediatric patient with developmental regression, making the patient compound heterozygous. TARS2 encodes for mitochondrial threonyl-tRNA synthetase, which catalyzes the addition of threonine to tRNAthr. Student researchers in my lab are working to understand the nature of the mutations and the effects of harboring these variants on cells.

Josh, Luke, Brooklyn 2016
Research students (L-R): Josh Reider (’18), Luke Bartl (’18), and Brooklyn DeVries (’18)

Drought tolerance in plants

The genetics of drought tolerance in plants is not well understood, even though characterizing the mechanisms of drought response is vitally important to our understanding of how plants will be effected by the changing climate. Drs. Steven Matzner, Carrie Olson-Manning, and I collaborate on a functional genomics project to identify drought-related genes and the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of these genes.

How do I apply for research in the Vitiello lab?

Undergraduate students interested in working in the Vitiello lab in the summertime can apply for the Sanford Program for Undergraduate Research or the South Dakota BRIN program. These are paid internship programs.


Grants Supporting Undergraduate Research

NSF EPSCoR RII Track 1 award and the State of South Dakota.  Hoppe (PI) (4/01/14-3/31/19) The 2020 Vision: Building Research, Education, and Innovation Partnerships for South Dakota. $20,000,000. The purpose NSF EPSCoR grant is to build collaborative centers and partnerships in the state of South Dakota. Role: Research Mentor

P20GM103443.  Goodman (PI).  9/01/15-5/30/20. NIH/INBRE (NIGMS) South Dakota INBRE Program.  $14.4 million. The purpose of the SD INBRE grant is to strengthen biomedical research across the state of South Dakota. Role:  Research Mentor