My project was intended to gain a more thorough understanding of protein interactions in human lung cancers, with specific focus on differential interactions within tumors exhibiting certain gene mutations. Any elucidated novel interactions between mutant and wild-type forms of a gene could potentially be a route to treatment via a new class of anti-cancer drugs, giving hope to patients with tumors that are currently considered directly undruggable.
I became interested in this project after my grandmother was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I felt I had a moral obligation to put my knowledge of molecular biology to use to help alleviate human suffering. After attending a talk on cancer biology presented by my future mentor, Dr. Mariaelena Pierobon, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to this project. This project fits into my future goals by preparing me for the rigors of graduate school, where I hope to obtain a PhD. Longer term, I aspire to start my own company and leverage the translational research techniques I have learned to improve the human condition.
On a weekly basis, I maintain cancer cell lines in culture, conduct experiments, refine techniques with iterative improvements, and read literature related to cancer biology to improve my understanding of the biological systems I am observing. During my project this semester I learned the importance of cooperation, collaboration and integrity in conducting research.