Exploring circular RNA with Dora Zucko

August 6, 2019
Dora Zucko with Vegas

Five thousand miles away in Zagreb, Croatia, Dora Zucko’s home country, the average veterinarian makes only a fourth of what they earn in the United States. Zucko is a student in the Veterinary Medicine graduate program, working in the laboratory of VBS Professor and Chair Kathleen Boris-Lawrie. She has a great passion for animals. In veterinary school, she spent most of her free time volunteering at an animal clinic. Zucko was first exposed to research during her last year in veterinary school, when she participated in volunteer lab rotations. She enjoyed the opportunity to work "behind the scenes," as she believes a combination of research and practical skills will contribute to making her a better doctor. 

In the Boris-Lawrie lab, Dora analyzes circular RNA. This form of RNA was originally considered to be molecular waste produced during a process of gene expression, but the development of next generation-sequencing technologies have revealed its importance. Zucko recently made a presentation in the Spring semester CVM Graduate student seminar series and explained how she and her team use circular RNA as biomarkers for various diseases in domestic animals, as well as to explore its speculated immunologic potential. As Dora’s career blossoms, her definition of the word ‘impossible’ has shifted in a big way. “Aim beyond what you think you’re capable of, because nothing is impossible,” she advises.

Zucko always dreamed of a career as a wildlife photographer, and she hopes to spend some time in Antarctica photographing penguins after graduate school, before finding a “real” job. This summer, she’s looking forward to visits from family members and a trip to Las Vegas, the namesake of her photogenic pup, 'Vegas.'

- Gabriel Sinner