- Research Program Mentor
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Immunology, brain tumor; T cell exhaustion; immunotherary; clinical trials; CRISPR technology, gene therapy, immune cell recovery following bone marrow transplant
Literature review on understanding T cell exhaustion in cancer
The immune system is very good at detecting invaders (bacteria, viruses, parasites). Over the last couple of years, we have also learned that the immune system provides an important protection against the development of cancer. Unfortunately, sometimes the immune system is unable to completely destroy a tumor. When this happens, the immune system will be continuously activated and this results in an "exhausted" cell. This exhausted cell is less capable to destroying tumor cells, allowing the tumor to grow and spread. Writing a review on this topic will provide you with a thorough understanding of many aspects of immunology and gives you the opportunity to publish in a journal like Emerging investigators (or others)
Gene editing as a treatment for sickle cell disease
Sickle cell anemia is a debilitating disease that causes patients excruciating pain, among many other symptoms. Patients with sickle cell disease often have shorter life spans than healthy people. Interestingly, sickle cell anemia is caused by a single nucleotide mutation in the DNA. This has led researchers to try to cure the disease by fixing the mutation on a genetic level using a relatively new technique called CRISPR. This technique allows us to make very specific edits to the DNA that can result in a lifelong cure. Writing a review on this topic will provide you with a thorough understanding of many aspects of genetic diseases and gene editing approaches and gives you the opportunity to publish in a journal like Emerging investigators (or others)
Immunotherapy as a treatment for cancer
Ever since scientists discovered that the immune system is capable of fighting cancer, treatments harnessing its power have been developed. One of the main cell types responsible for fighting tumors are T cells. Researchers have been successful in making T cells from a patient specific for the tumor. These treatments are called CARs (chimeric antigen receptors) and have been very successful, especially against blood cancers (such as leukemia). Another potential treatment is to treat patients with immune checkpoint blockade, such as anti-PD1 or anti-CTLA4. When T cells are present in the tumor for an extended period of time, they increase the expression of receptors (such as PD1 and CTLA4) that can decrease T cell function and make them less capable of destroying tumors. Immune checkpoint blockade can reduce this negative signaling, making T cells more functional. Writing a review on this topic will provide you with a thorough understanding of many aspects of immunology and gives you the opportunity to publish in a journal like Emerging investigators (or others)
Understanding how cells in the tumor affect tumor growth
When researchers evaluate the cells present in a tumor, there are generally two main classes: cells that help the tumor grow (pro-tumor) and those that try to destroy the tumor (anti-tumor). As we start to learn more about which cell types are present in the tumor, we start to understand how the tumor evades our bodies natural defenses. These insights can also be used to develop new treatment strategies for patients with cancer. Writing a review on this topic will provide you with a thorough understanding of many aspects of immunology and gives you the opportunity to publish in a journal like Emerging investigators (or others)
Does this treatment actually work?
Have you ever wondered why there are so many research papers on the same topic? And even more intriguing is that many of the papers actually have contradicting outcomes! In order to determine which of the papers are actually correct, we can perform something called a meta-analysis. In this type of project, you will collect research papers on your disease/side effect/prognostic marker and treatment of interest. You will then analyze the data to determine whether the treatment has an effect on the outcome you have chosen!