Meet Jeremiah Brown, UAF BLaST May 2022 Scientist of the Month

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By Amy Topkok

Since 2016, the Biomedical Learning and Student Training (BLaST) program at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) has highlighted scientists from all biomedical fields through its Scientist of the Month articles.

These are shared across all UAF and University of Alaska Southeast rural campuses and with BLaST’s partners: Iļisaġvik College, Fort Lewis College, Diné College, Salish Kootenai College and Alaska Pacific University. For more BLaST Scientist of the Month highlights, visit their website

For more information about this article, please contact BLaST staff Amy Topkok at

BLaST May Scientist of the Month: Jeremiah Brown

Head shot of BLaST Scholar Jeremiah Brown
BLaST Scholar Jeremiah Brown


Jeramiah Brown was a UAF senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a concentration in biomedical science and graduated in April 2022. Brown was a third-year BLaST scholar who lived in Florida, Alabama and Nevada before moving to Alaska. Growing up, Brown was a very active person (and still is today) who played many sports, including football, basketball, baseball and track. 

“My interest in athletics and in medicine have led me to the desired career of becoming an orthopedic surgeon and helping other athletes be able to return to playing the sports they love,“ Brown said, adding that his research interest focuses on MinION novel technology.

Brown started his journey in research in the cell and molecular lab of Andrej Podlutsky’s, PhD, a former BLaST Faculty Pilot Project awardee (2016-2018, equipment awardee 2015-2016 and 2017-2018). Brown looked at DNA repair efficiency in cancer cell lines, more specifically, lung cancer cell lines HTB-177 and A-549. He credits his time spent in this lab for learning comet assay protocol and other lab techniques that helped build his research skills. 

“This project was a great experience and opened my eyes on what research looks like and helped me understand how it can lead to possible advancements leading to amazing medical discoveries,” Brown said. “This lab also sparked my interests in the field of oncology and cancer research. I hope to conduct research while in medical school and after I become a physician. I could see myself being a part of cancer research because of the great experience I gained from working in Dr. Podlutsky’s lab.” 

Brown joined current FPP and equipment awardee Devin Drown’s, PhD, MinION project this past semester and was able to work with the technology MinION (©Oxford Nanopore Technologies), a pocket-sized DNA and RNA sequencing device. 

BLaST Scholar Jeramiah Brown in Dr. Devin Drown’s lab putting in code in order to run sequences using the MinION.
BLaST Scholar Jeramiah Brown in Dr. Devin Drown’s lab putting in code in order to run sequences using the MinION.


“The key part of this technology is that it is very portable (fits in the palm of hand), affordable, and requires minimal steps. This project provided evidence that it can be used as a replacement for other technologies like Illumina and PCR, which can be expensive, difficult to use in remote locations, and require many steps (PCR),” he said. “In this project, we were able to build our own MinION set-ups and enrich for a specific target genome using adaptive sampling, which was a lot of fun and was very educational. It was an amazing experience being a part of research that is taking place all over the world. I am excited to see the future projects involving the MinION technology and look forward to seeing the future clinical applications.”  

Brown presented his results at the UAF Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity (URSA) Research days from April 5 to 7.

He thanked his former research mentor Podlutsky, and Megahn Reese, a BLaST Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) awardee (AY22, Spring 2021, Spring 2020) and fellow lab mate who also provided valuable mentorship in his first years of his academic and scientific career. 

Brown also thanked Drown, who was “essential for providing all the necessary materials and education to better understand why this project was important,” as well as former BLaST Research, Advising and Mentoring Professional (RAMP) Natalia Podlutskaya, who was “always very helpful and was amazing at being available and figured out any questions I ever asked her.”

Other mentoring skills Brown shared included teaching others essential lab techniques required to perform their experiments and tutoring students outside of his coursework. He also spent three years as an active member of the UAF PreMED Society chapter, of which the last year was in an officer position. “As an officer, I was responsible for organizing lecture material for meetings and giving advice for members on what to expect when applying to medical schools.” 


The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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