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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

Ana Posada: Improving the production of an HIV medication by Melis A. '08

Ana Posada, who just graduated from MIT, spent a year and half of her undergraduate career working in the Sinkey Lab. Her project was to use bacterial genetics to improve the production of an HIV medication.

The Class of 2007 walked across the stage last Friday, and among the firehose-survivors was Ana Posada. Ana, a Biology major from Lawrenceville, GA, will head off to Dartmouth for a Ph.D program next year. As an undergraduate, she made sure to take time to explore our campus and enjoy the offerings at MIT. Among her many experiences, Ana worked in the Sinkey Lab, one of the few MIT microbiology labs, for one and a half years.

She says, “Other than getting people sick, bacteria have many useful applications such as biodegradable plastic production and bioremediation. My project focuses on the AIDS protease inhibitor Crixivan ®. The compound has 5 chiral centers and takes about 2 weeks to produce at only about a 50% yield. My research has centered on engineering a plasmid into Rhodococcus species that will allow the bacteria to produce a major intermediate of the drug. The benefits of using bacteria are that bacteria are stereospecific and that bacteria allow for easier scalability of a process.”

Basically, the drug Crixivan ® is used to combat HIV, but it is a very complicated compound that is extremely difficult to make. Instead of relying strictly on bench-top chemical reactions, the Sinskey Lab is using bacteria to perform a critical step in the production process. By inserting a plasmid, or small circular piece of DNA, into the bacteria, Ana is essentially training the bacteria to perform a specific task.

Ana found out about this UROP opportunity from the Experimental Microbial Genetics class. The lab also focuses on the production of a biodegradable plastic with many medical applications.

We wish Ana the best of luck! She reminds us to, “Enjoy MIT even during the hard times. There’s no place like it.”

16 responses to “Ana Posada: Improving the production of an HIV medication”

  1. Ken Mbeva says:

    Congrats Ana for the superb work and all the best at Dartmouth.Am from Kenya,Africa and AIDS is real!99% of the victims dying are the poor.Thanks alot Melis for the post.

  2. Ken Mbeva says:

    Congrats Ana for the superb work and all the best at Dartmouth.Am from Kenya,Africa and AIDS is real!99% of the victims dying are the poor.Thanks alot Melis for the post.

  3. Ummm melissa I dunno whether you know about this or not but I thought I would add to your information.

    I am a muslim and being one we believe in Holy Prophet who once said ” Any nation who indulges in illegal relationships, God will bring on them a disease that will be incurable” and now we find that its AIDS.

    Moreover, I read over an year ago that some really big US Research department ( I cant remember the exact name), its head researcher on a way to find a cure to AIDS admitted that its very likely that we have to conclude that AIDS is absolutely incurable and it might be that its cure might not even be possible ever.

    I wish people would like to see this world beyond science… I am telling this to a MIT student! omg! haha….cheers

  4. anon.again says:

    So many tough acts to follow….
    Congrats — and thanks for the inspiration.
    Best of luck at Dartmouth.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So many tough acts to follow….
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Best of luck at Dartmouth.
    Oh, and Melis, I did get a copy of Glamour!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Sorry for the double post — the processing time for entries seems interminable, and I thought the first one just didn’t go through.

  7. Wings '11 says:

    That’s so amazing! I want to go into medical research – I’m so excited to be able to start doing that in college! Thank you for posting her story =)

  8. Karen says:

    A well-wisher:

    Whether that theory is right or wrong doesn’t matter. The mission at MIT is not to judge, but to “better humanity,” plain and simple.

    And come on. Like anyone at MIT would ever let a word like “incurable” stop them.

  9. Wings '11 says:

    To A Well-Wisher,

    AIDS is not simply limited to the United States. It kills more people in Africa than anywhere else, and Africa is not a country but a collection of countries. To use your religion to say that these people deserve to die is incredibly low.

    When you can provide proof behind your words, you might stand a chance of being believed. Until then, we will continue to hope for a cure and strive for one. A common cold used to kill. Cancer used to be a death sentence. These are not the cases anymore, and someday AIDS, I am certain, will turn this way as well.

  10. Lady Theta says:

    To a well-wisher:

    I am a current MIT student and a Muslim. That does not mean I decide what diseases to try to cure, based on the race/gender/sexual orientation of the patient who suffers from said disease. Regardless of religious beliefs, the job of a scientist is to “better humanity”. In the similar vein of Karen and Wings’11, the label “incurable” is only a challenge to try harder.

  11. Snively says:

    Why should a religious belief stop a group of people from making the world a better place?

    There is a cure for AIDS, it will be found, and the world will be better for it.

  12. Ken Mbeva says:

    @well wisher:let me remind you of one fact that you are overlooking;AIDS is not spread by promisquity only,but through unsterilised injection needles and many other involuntary ways.then those who get infected this way then unknowingly pass it on to their spouses and so forth.So it is absolutely wrong to condemn everyone with AIDS!

  13. Ronny CHEN says:

    This is why I love to go to MIT. You never know what’s gonna come up in the next second, but you can still find it enjoyable.

  14. Christina says:


    According to your religious belief, then, any medical research is futile. Most diseases would be “incurable” and even deadly if scientists resigned to accepting the disease’s effect was of God’s will. [Life expectancy would be about 45 again and the quality of life would not be near what it is.]

  15. Congrats, Ana. We are very proud of you and your achievemnts.
    You continue to be my favorite grandaughter.

  16. pfffff says:

    ah those narrow-minded religion-bred people… pfffff