Diego Ploper is a Ph.D. candidate in UCLA’s Department of Biological Chemistry. His research interest is developmental biology, the process by which a complex organism develops from a single cell—particularly the early phase of gastrulation, in which the animal embryo is reorganized into three germ layers, each destined to produce specific sets of tissues or organs. A complex network of interacting proteins regulates gastrulation; Diego aims to understand how components of this protein network interact to produce a perfectly formed embryo. Because the same biochemical processes that shape embryonic growth later help to maintain tissue and organ stability, Diego’s work will also contribute to our understanding of many human diseases, such as cancer, characterized by disruption of these processes.
A native of Argentina, Diego received a Bachelor’s degree from the National University of Tucumán, where he specialized in biochemistry. His ultimate goal is to establish his own research laboratory, and to contribute to science education in Argentina.