Senior Conducts Genetics-Based Cancer Research

APRIL 22, 2015 – Victor Wang (NHS’15), a human science major, has been working in the laboratory of Ronit Yarden, PhD, assistant professor of human science, since the summer after his first year.

In his three years in the Discovery Center with Yarden, Wang has developed a solid interest in genetics-based research, specifically in its application to cancer treatment.

“I wanted to do research that would be directly applicable to humans and that would allow me to explore the topics that I would eventually learn within the human science curriculum,” says the student, who participated in the department’s Honors Program.

Genetics-Based Research

Wang’s research project, entitled “Strigolactone Analogue-Induced Reactive Oxygen Species Activate Pro-Survival Responses Prior to Apoptosis in Cancer Cells,” characterizes the mechanism of how a novel plant hormone inhibits cancer cells.

His project details a timeline of signaling events within the cell, telling a story of how cancer cells try to rescue themselves from the plant hormone treatment, but ultimately, fail to survive.

“One of my greatest rewards from research is having had the opportunity to learn from my mentor, other faculty, and students and to teach new students,” says Wang, who presented Monday at the major annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Support and Mentorship

Wang says that what he will miss the most after graduation are the people he met at Georgetown.

“My research mentor Dr. Yarden definitely played the biggest role in allowing me to tag onto a rapidly developing project within her lab,” the student says.

He also credits his peer advisor and lab mate Colin Ryan (NHS’13) and Alexandra Pietraszkiewicz (NHS’14) for providing him with guidance and setting great examples.

“I think the research experience at Georgetown has definitely allowed me to grow as an individual,” he says. “The quality education on life in general has also been invaluable to shaping me into who I have become today.”

Research Conference

Wang also recently presented his research during both poster and oral sessions of the annual Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Conference, founded by the Department of Human Science at the School of Nursing & Health Studies in 2003.

He previously served as chair of the student planning committee, responsible for the conference planning and coordination.

“I love seeing what others are doing on campus and trying to figure out how to connect students to pursue their passions and expand their work as I have,” the senior says.

Medical School

He thanks Alexander Theos, PhD, assistant professor of human science, and Jan LaRocque, PhD, assistant professor of human science, for guiding his experiences in the research conference and the Georgetown University Journal of Health Sciences, respectively.

Upon graduation, he plans to attend medical school, where he would like to continue his research efforts and become an educator in the future.

By Masha Mikey (S’15)