Nakul Shah, a medical student in Dr. Ting Wang’s lab, was recently named a Howard Hughes Fellow. The program, which is run through Howard Hughes Medical Institute, gives aspiring doctors and scientists $43,000 each in grant support, allowing them to spend a year conducting research.

Shah’s research focuses on cancer and “junk DNA,” or transposable elements that comprise about half of the human genome. He will help analyze 33 cancer types to determine how often cancer cells may hijack transposable elements and contribute to tumor growth.

“What interests me about this topic is how this could be a double-edged sword for cancer cells,” said Shah, a third-year medical student, said in a statement. “On one end, cancer cells can use transposable elements to activate tumorigenic pathways; but on the other end, this may allow for the development of creative therapeutic strategies targeting the consequences of this phenomenon.”

Read more about Nakul and the Wang lab here.