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I spent much of summer 2011 in working in Dr. Todd Ridky’s lab, assisting in cancer research therein through the PURM grant. This lab, as part of the department of Dermatology, is engaged in different projects related to cancers in the context of skin cells including finding new oncogenic drivers, elucidating the significance of IQGAP scaffolding proteins in cancer, and others.
The project involving IQGAP included using different cell types with knocked-down IQGAP1 and then observing changes in tumor growth and proliferation. Diminished tumor proliferation with IQGAP1 knockdown was observed in cell lines. As the project is ongoing, goals include replicating these findings in primary human cells and also rescuing IQGAP1 function to demonstrate renewed tumorigenic potential.
Working in the lab was a great learning experience for me. Having been introduced to the sciences at a rigorous academic level during my freshman year, I was eager to participate in research and learn its workings. In the lab, I learned some basic lab techniques and also learned a lot about the thought processes that underlie scientific research. Learning the techniques allowed me to see some different methods by whcih scientific knowledge is created. Developing the thought process allowed me to think about new material in classes this year through the lens of research, which made for an increased appreciation of science in general. The research experience has improved my educational experience in that it has showed me the application of knowledge beyond taking exams and making grades. It is used in research to create new knowledge and to, in this case, help people battle cancer.