Jacqueline Marcia Boccacino

PhD Student

Jacqueline is a PhD student at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge. She is interested in cancer genomics as well as single-cell and spatial technologies.


Undergraduate studies

Jacqueline completed her undergraduate studies at the University of São Paulo (USP), Brazil, being awarded a B.Sc. degree in Molecular Sciences in August 2022. During her undergrad, she was a research student in the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Stem Cells of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of USP, under the supervision of Dr. Marilene Hohmuth Lopes, between January 2020 and July 2022. Jacqueline’s undergraduate-level research focused on glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of malignant brain tumour. In particular, she investigated the role of cellular prion protein, the physiological isoform of the infectious prion, in the biology of that cancer through the analysis of publicly available bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing datasets generated from patient-derived samples. Jacqueline also had a side project which aimed to interrogate the importance of stress-inducible protein 1, a co-chaperone, in specific stages of early embryonic development by leveraging a publicly available single-cell RNA sequencing dataset that contained mouse cells ranging from the zygote to the late blastocyst stage. Check out Jacqueline’s flash talk in the Developmental and Paediatric Cell Atlas Meeting 2021 here.

Sanger Prize internship

Noteworthy, Jacqueline was the winner of the Sanger Prize 2021 and joined the Wellcome Sanger Institute for the first time as a visiting researcher in Dr. Sarah Teichmann’s lab in the Cellular Genetics Programme (CellGen), between April and July 2022. During her internship in the Teichmann Lab, she worked with Dr. Rik Lindeboom on the groundbreaking COVID-19 Human Challenge Study, which aimed to characterise the immune response against SARS-CoV-2 throughout the course of a COVID-19 infection. Jacqueline interrogated single-cell RNA and V(D)J sequencing data obtained from nasopharyngeal and peripheral blood samples of individuals that had been exposed to the virus to look for potential SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell receptors. Check out the preprint that reports the findings of the COVID-19 Human Challenge Study here.

Work experience

After the end of her Sanger Prize internship, Jacqueline went back to Brazil to spend some time with her family, and she then returned to Sanger in October 2022 to work as a bioinformatician in Dr. David Adams’ Experimental Cancer Genetics group, based in the Cancer, Ageing and Somatic Mutation Programme (CASM). During her time in the lab, she worked as part of DERMATLAS, an innovative project that aims to build a genomic atlas of a range of different skin tumour subtypes. Along with other team members and collaborators from the Parasites and Microbes Programme (PaM), she developed a pathogen identification pipeline for DERMATLAS. She also contributed to the quality control assessment of DERMATLAS cohorts and analysed bulk whole exome and RNA sequencing data of some of the skin tumours that are part of the project.

PhD at Sanger

After a very fulfilling journey working as a bioinformatician for a year, Jacqueline started pursuing a PhD at Sanger and the University of Cambridge. She is currently undertaking her first PhD rotation in Dr. Sarah Teichmann’s lab. Under the supervision of Dr. Amanda Oliver, Jacqueline is investigating cell type-specific sexual dimorphism in the human lungs, focusing on differences in gene expression and cell-cell communication between males and females. The project leverages the integrated Human Lung Cell Atlas (HLCA) made available through the HCA consortium.

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