Making an Impact: Jenna Madigan

Making an Impact: Jenna Madigan '22

Jenna Madigan ’22

Jenna Madigan ’22

Biomedical engineering became my path in high school. It’s a way to impact many people, from a backseat role, through the creation of new medical devices.”

— Jenna Madigan ’22

In keeping with the mission of Fairfield University’s Jesuit values, specifically the concept of men and women for others, the School of Engineering inspires students to become leaders of integrity within the industry. Through their comprehensive curriculum, students are given opportunities to conduct innovative, in-depth research with faculty mentors. This hallmark of a solid educational experience offers students a chance to put their academic skills to the test, explore their passions, and make a difference.

When biomedical engineering major Jenna Madigan ’22 learned of the DNA research project being conducted by professor of electrical and biomedical engineering Isaac Macwan, PhD, she knew she wanted to participate in the study. “After reading literature on the topic,” she said, “I knew this concept had the potential to give special results and to hopefully help those suffering from Lynch Syndrome.”

Madigan first became interested in the biomedical engineering field as a high school student taking advanced placement courses in biology and mathematics. It was in those courses where she saw the potential to effect change. “Biomedical engineering became my path in high school. It’s a way to impact many people, from a backseat role, through the creation of new medical devices,” she explained.

The current junior chose Fairfield for its intimate class size, renowned faculty, and career connections. She noted that the small class sizes allow her to connect and create a bond with her classmates while also getting to know and work with professors on research studies.

Under the guidance of Dr. Macwan, Madigan’s current project, “Interactions Between Mismatch Repair Protein, MutS, and 50 bp Mismatched DNA,” examines the process of DNA repair, specifically a protein called MutSbeta that recognizes mismatches. Madigan explained that though DNA replication is extremely accurate, it will make an incorrect match about every 100,000 bases. MutSbeta recognizes this mismatch and initiates the rest of the process to remove, refill, and reseal the gap in the strand.

“The scope of our research project impacts more than just the letter sequence of DNA. The deficiency of the protein we are studying gives rise to Lynch Syndrome, which causes colorectal cancer,” said Madigan. “With our knowledge about the function of this protein, we hope to be able to possibly identify the lack of MutSbeta in humans and therefore acknowledge the precursor to colorectal cancer earlier for proper treatment and medical care.”

Madigan and her research team are in the process of preparing to present their work virtually at the 2021 American Chemical Society meeting in April. She noted, “Attending this conference will allow us to share our findings while connecting with the community of scientists also making discoveries in our field.”

For Madigan, her research at Fairfield with Dr. Macwan is just the first step in what she hopes will be a lifetime of learning. “I am fascinated with the growing field of biotechnology and I want to continue to learn and evolve with the field.”

Tags:  School of Engineering and Computing

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