Finding a Cure

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Oluwatise Ogunmesa, COL ’23

This summer, I was given the opportunity to continue research work with Laura Scolaro, PhD and Minu Samanta on two diverse projects in the Maris Oncology lab at the Colket Translational Research Building – CHOP.

The first half was centralized on reading and researching publications on a selective inhibitor, Aurora kinase LY, that has been linked to apoptosis in cancer cells. First, we developed a strategy on how to conduct an experiment on the effectiveness of the drug on pediatric cancer cell lines, which included finding the appropriate positive and negative controls, deciding which cell lines to use and the amount of cells to test the inhibitor (drug) on, etc. Then, we had to troubleshoot and find out what media to grow the cell lines in, how many cells to plate, and the volume of the Aurora kinase drug to add to the plate. After a thorough investigation, we finally decided on the optimum conditions and conducted many trials. Within this project, there was a huge emphasis on data analysis. Not only did we have to perform the experiment, but we also needed to analyze the huge amount of data we obtained from it. For this, we conducted an Incucyte analysis to qualitatively observe the cell growth over the run of the experiment and a Cell-Titer Glo (CTG) analysis to quantitatively determine the cell viability by measuring the cell’s ATP concentration. After analyzing and sharing the data in the lab meeting, we concluded that we will need to expand the research into several other cell lines, increase the drug concentration in the plate, and continue to read more publications on previous works to serve as a guide.

The second half was heavily focused on animal work. For this project, I worked alongside Minu on collecting immuno-compromised tumor samples and expanding them in mice for multiple passages. There were many procedures I had to learn from how to properly scruff a mouse to how to perform surgery in sterile conditions. Moving from an in vitro/ cell culture area to a more perceivable in vivo line of work, I was able to finally get the necessary hands-on experience that would allow me to better understand the complexities of cancer research. As a pre-health profession student, being a part of the process of “finding a cure” that can specifically target a certain portion of the mitotic activity, and an observable tumor collection on mice has greatly increased my knowledge in oncology. I am very grateful to have gotten the opportunity and the backing from Career Services to explore and expand on my knowledge that can assist those who are battling cancer. It was a great way of learning more about those who work tirelessly to develop mechanisms of diminishing the atrocious effects cancer can have on the human body, and to have personally participated alongside them in finding combative solutions to cancer.

Overall, this was a great summer research experience that I was fortunate to have gone through, and I hope to continue throughout my time here at Penn.

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