Hebron-native Patriots cheerleader spends days studying gene editing

(CNN/WTNH) — A New England Patriots Cheerleader is breaking stereotypes. She not only works hard on the field, but off the field in the lab, as well.

By day, Theresa Oei sports a lab coat as she studies gene editing as a Research Associate at the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard in Cambridge.

On nights and weekends, she swaps out the coat for workout gear to practice getting fans fired up as rookie cheerleader for the New England Patriots.

“Whenever they all walk on the field it’s so exciting and the crowd loves it,” said Oei.

Theresa is breaking the mold, so to speak, when it comes to what you’d think a scientist, or even a cheerleader, is like. She enjoys people’s reactions to her vastly different lines of work.

“I think they are surprised most of the time,” said Oei.

Being on the field is her fun, but being in the lab is her life.

“A lot of science is asking the questions why, why does it work like this and then of course solving problems,” said Oei.

The Yale graduate’s team at the institute researches gene editing to better understand genetic diseases, like cancer, with the hopes of someday being able to manipulate DNA as a type of treatment. Theresa says it’s a privilege to share her love of science with young people she meets at school events on behalf of the Patriots.

“Leaving the path to science open is really important and showing that it can be a lot of fun,” said Oei.

Oei is from Hebron, Connecticut. She graduated from Yale University with a Bachelors in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in 2015.

She says she isn’t done following her dream. She’s in the process of applying to graduate school to get her PHD.

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