While a graduate student at Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, Camilynn Brannan struggled to identify the protein product of the H19 gene and obtained evidence that it did not encode a protein at all, but functioned as an RNA. At that time, there were not many other examples in mammals of functional RNAs transcribed by polymerase II, so Brannan assumed she would just have to work harder to find a protein, and that's what she told her adviser, Shirley Tilghman.

But Tilghman encouraged Brannan to accept her results, and outlined a series of experiments to test the hypothesis. In the end, with Tilghman's encouragement, Brannan provided good evidence that H19 encodes an RNA. Since that time, there have been numerous other polymerase II transcribed gene products that have been shown to function as RNAs.1 Tilghman had given her student the confidence and tools she needed to...

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