Cancer is a disease that occurs when cells in the body deviate from normal behavior and grow rapidly. There are hundreds of types of cancer that may arise from different cells in the body, but they all share this property. There are many ways that cells may become cancerous- they may lose signals that stop uncontrolled growth, or may receive signals to continue growing past what is needed. There are many genes that can directly and indirectly affect the transition from normal cells to cancer cells. As the cancer cells continue to proliferate, they invade other cell lines and eventually spread throughout the body.
My coursework at the University of Maryland allowed me to study many biological phenomena including cancer. I've studied the disease at the genetic, cellular and organismal levels.
Aside from cancer biology in my schoolwork, I've found many opportunities during my high school and undergraduate years to study cancer in laboratory and clinical settings.
During the summer of 2016, I shadowed a radiation oncologist at the Lombardi Cancer Center at the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. I had the unique opportunity to observe doctor-patient interactions, medical procedures and research patient records to understand the manifestation of prostate cancer as well as the cutting-edge treatment options that were being implemented.
During the summer of 2016 I also conducted research at the Georgetown School of Medicine at the Albert J. Fornace Jr. Laboratory. I learned about various laboratory techniques and worked under a NASA Specialized Center of Research (NSCOR) grant to understand the effects of heavy ion radiation on the oncogenesis of gastrointestinal cancer in mice. The findings of this investigation have important applications related to monitoring the health of astronauts taking part in long-term manned missions in space. More information about this investigation can be found here.
In high school I conducted research at the Bisoffi Laboratory at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. I conducted a self directed project to study the effects of various plant extracts with documented anticancer effects. I ran treatments of turmeric and other plant extracts on prostate and breast cancer cell lines to observe their effects on cell proliferation, and attempted to find the active anticancer components of these plant extracts. I presented this research at various competitions and events such as the 2013 Bio International Convention (BIO).