Connor McKenney

Most cells in our body contain two copies of DNA — one copy from each of our parents. However, many cancer cells undergo a process called whole-genome doubling, through which they acquire approximately twice the amount of DNA of a normal cell. This process is associated with drug resistance and metastasis throughout the body, so it is an important step in cancer progression. In the Regot Lab, my work has focused on understanding how this process happens; first discovering various causes, then identifying what the causes have in common, and finally demonstrating how they cause it. These findings changed our understanding of the wiring of the human cell division cycle, and provide a mechanistic basis for the high incidence of whole-genome doubling in cancer.

Questions & Answers

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?

The quality of both basic research and medicine at Johns Hopkins makes it a unique place to train in biomedical research. I was also drawn in by the friendliness of students and faculty during my interviews.

What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally? Do you have any connection with the particular award you received?

I am very grateful to receive the Bae Gyo Jung Award. This honor is motivating both personally and professionally to continue our work.

What contributed to your project’s success?

Many things contributed to the project’s success, including support from my thesis adviser, everyone from the Regot Lab, and others in the MBG Department. Additionally, the Regot Lab’s approach of tool-building and studying single-cell behavior allowed me to visualize some aspects of cell behavior in a way that had not been done before. Cellular processes can be complicated, but being able to see how they work in real time provides a lot of insight.

What thoughts do you have about Young Investigators’ Day itself, as a celebration of the roles students and fellows play in research at Johns Hopkins?

The Young Investigators’ Day Program is an exciting tradition that brings together the community at Johns Hopkins. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows spend a lot of time at the bench to drive the research at Hopkins forward, and it is important to recognize and acknowledge their contributions.

What has been your best/most memorable experience while at Johns Hopkins?

Some of my most memorable experiences have come from playing sports with other Johns Hopkins affiliates. There are opportunities to get involved in all kinds of sports, and these help to build the community at Hopkins.


What are your plans over the next year or so? Graduating, looking for faculty positions, etc.?

I am evaluating my career options while I prepare to defend my thesis.

Tell me something interesting about yourself that makes you unique. Do you have any special hobbies, interests or life experiences?

I have more plants than I can take care of and a cat who’s always hungry. Other than that, I spend my free time playing sports, gaming, hiking and exploring other cities.