Aaron, Nikki

Nikki Aaron

Nikki grew up in Fairfax, Virginia and attended Robinson Secondary School. She will be graduating from UVA with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and a Minor in Psychology. Since August 2015, Nikki has been working in Dr. Thurl Harris’ lab in the Pharmacology Department in the School of Medicine. Dr. Harris’ lab studies how the enzymes involved in lipid metabolic pathways are regulated and how their deregulation can lead to pathological conditions such as obesity and Type II Diabetes. Over the last two years, Nikki has been exploring the stability of lipin-1, a phosphatidic acid phosphatase enzyme in the Kennedy pathway of lipid synthesis and an essential component of triacylglycerol synthesis in adipose tissue. She is working to identify critical residues that regulate lipin-1 ubiquitination and degradation by the proteasome. In light of the obesity epidemic, understanding what regulates lipin-1 stability and its ability to synthesize triacylglycerol may help to illustrate the mechanisms at play in metabolic derangements that physicians see every day. Following graduation, Nikki will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Pharmacology at Columbia University in New York City.