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The last three generations of Irina’s family have included biologists. She was therefore introduced to research at a young age. Irina now runs her own lab and is trying to understand what goes wrong in cells to cause cancer to develop. Many genes that are required for normal growth are inappropriately switched off in cancer cells due to a chemical alteration of DNA, known as methylation, at the control regions of genes. Irina compares normal cells to lung cancer cells to see which genes are switched off in the cancer cells that should be on and vice versa.