Before I begin writing my first blog post, here is a video you should all check out:
http://intelstudios.edgesuite.net/idf/2013/sf/keynote/130910_rj/index.html (if this link doesn't work, here is the same video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hko4VUWA86w)
Renée James, Intel President
San Francisco Keynote 2013
(she starts talking about Intel x OHSU Knight Cancer Institute around 14:55)
First of all, that was pretty cool. In this segment, Renée James talked about the new collaboration between Intel and the Knight Cancer Institute (where I research at currently!) and the exciting new plans to bring computers, programming, and biology together.
"Scale is the thing"
We are introduced to the long-term goal of personalized medicine and cancer care, as well as Intel's work to solve this "Big Data Challenge" involved with the storage of full human genome sequences.
Currently, I work in Dr. Brian Druker's lab under the wonderful mentorship of Dr. Cristina Tognon. I love Cristina for her passion for cancer biology and I enjoy the times spent in her office discussing and learning about cancer and the lab's project in molecular detail.
The general project Cristina and I are working on corresponds with the lab's larger goal for the world to be cancer-free and ultimately reach a level of personalized medicine that is effective, accessible, and efficient.
As the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute website mentions: "Every cancer is unique."
So for a progress update on my project: My current goal is to see if a mutation is transforming (the driver of the cancer) or not.
On Friday, I went to the lab to check on the viruses we made by transfecting human kidney cells with the mutant plasmid. It takes about 48 hours for puromycin (puro--an antibiotic) to select cells--basically, I'm looking for all the cells to die in my control (no virus) and for lots of plump cells to fill up the wells that should have the mutations in them. After looking at the cells under the microscope, they seemed pretty confluent, so I split the cells into flasks--a bit more space plus fresh media+puro.
On Monday, I'll come back to the lab and we'll do a withdrawal assay to see if the cells will grow on their own (or die). Anticipating!
Once I find a transforming mutation, that will open up so many questions and research. And I'm really excited for that (crossing my fingers that one of the 8 mutations I'm working with will transform!). I'm looking forward to working with Veronica and our Science Research class to discuss my options if I do find a driver--I could look at the specific pathway of the gene in the cell, analyze how the gene gets expressed, work with different inhibitors, etc…
More to come soon!