My interest in cancer research was fueled by an incident where one of my relatives was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having dealt with those circumstances, I became more interested in the mechanisms behind cancer progression, inhibition studies and immunotherapy treatment methods. I had seen the effects of chemotherapy on the physiology of a cancer patient. After being exposed to principles of immunotherapy, I found myself leaning towards pursuing a career in the cancer field. During my senior year at Mason, I was looking for an opportunity to work with cancer and found out, after talking to Dr. Nitin Agrawal during the Tissue Engineering class, that he was planning a new experiment to trap cancer antigens into lipid bilayer vesicle to present to the memory cells. Instantly I felt like I found a perfect project match and started the project with enthusiasm. I believe that a deep understanding of cancer immunotherapy and hands-on experience with this research opportunity carries a great value for continuing further advanced studies and future endeavors.
The goal of the project is to encapsulate the cancer lysate (proteins) obtained from lysing cancer cells into lipid bilayer vesicles called liposomes. The project has several steps and for the summer I am working on preparing cancer lysate, synthesizing liposomes and try to encapsulate those lysate into liposomes along with several assays and testing procedures. My daily activities in the lab included but are not limited to cell culture, making buffer solutions, synthesizing liposomes of different lipid ratios, preparing cell lysate and performing protein assays, literature reviews on the subject matter and learning new stuff from the graduate students’ project. From this experience, I have learned the daily life of a researcher and graduate students.