One Step Closer to Beating Cancer

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 Kyle Kim, COL ’23

With the help of this year’s donors, I was able to conduct research through the Perelman’s School of Medicine as an integrated member of the Koumenis Lab. As part of the radiation oncology department at Penn, the Koumenis Lab focuses on delineating the mechanisms in which tumor cells use to cope with genetic or environmental stress. Once these key mechanisms are known, the Koumenis lab then focuses on developing molecular approaches to delay metastasis, tumor growth, and ultimately boost survival rates in patients afflicted with cancer.

Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to pursue a future in medicine. Whether I became a physician or conducted clinical research, I knew that I would eventually land where I belonged. Having this opportunity to work at the Koumenis Lab reaffirmed my love for medicine. At first, I was hesitant to join the lab due to financial concerns. However, with the financial award, I felt much more comfortable traveling from California to Philadelphia and living here over the summer. Additionally, since classes were all virtual prior to this summer, I was anxious about coming back to Philadelphia. But, I am glad I did. Not only did I learn techniques and methods unique to the laboratory, I was also able to apply my theoretical knowledge in biology and chemistry to research methods. As a student, I believe my work over the summer allowed me to be more professional and scholarly among highly distinguished research faculty at Penn.

To be more specific, my work during the summer involved breeding and genotyping genetically modified mice, performing in vivo/vitro experiments with mice, imaging immunofluorescent tissue samples, and quantifying experimental data. The translational research I was conducting focused mainly on the Integrated Stress Response and the role of transcription factor ATF4 in tumor growth and metastasis.

I think the most memorable experience of working in the lab was presenting my data. At the end of the summer, I was given the chance to present my findings and conclusions to all the lab members of the Koumenis Lab. While giving my presentation, I almost forgot how much work was required to finish my project and was amazed with how much information I was able to share with others. After my presentation was over, other lab members presented their work for the summer and it was wonderful being able to witness everyone’s hard work. Without the necessary funding, it would have been impossible to fully devote my time to my research and enjoy such high quality experience.

Although this was initially a summer opportunity, I believe I still have more to contribute to the Koumenis Lab. During the school year, I strive to continue researching through the Koumenis Lab and eventually officially publish my own paper in a highly respected medical journal. Again, I would like to thank the donors who made this wonderful opportunity possible for me.

By Career Services
Career Services