Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, BioMEMS Resource Center, Boston, MA
I returned as an intern for Dr. Shannon L. Stott at Mass General Hospital Cancer Center at the Charlestown Navy Yard campus. Dr. Stott has an engineering lab focused on developing microfluidic tools for cancer diagnoses and more effective tissue imaging technologies and techniques. With the onset of the recent pandemic, the Stott Lab also started to research more effective methods for diagnosing patients of the virus. This summer, I worked on two separate projects, one on their new Covid-19 research and the other focused in medulloblastoma.
In the first phone call I had with Dr. Stott, she explained the possibility of using stool to diagnose Covid-19. Labs across the country are exploring the probability of taking stool samples from wastewater plants and measuring the viral load in these samples, in order to estimate the percentage of a total population with the virus. This method of estimating the viral presence in populations is better than individual tests, because it is much cheaper and could provide earlier detection of the virus. I began the summer by performing extensive literature searches on stool and determining the major holes in current studies on stool and Covid-19. Then, I pinpointed a specific question that I believed was the most pressing and I designed a protocol around that specific question. Additionally, the lab was writing a large grant for their Covid-19 research midway through the summer, and I spent much of my time performing a literature search and gathering material that would support their grant writing.
The other part of my work this summer was focused on medulloblastoma patient samples and learning how to perform bioinformatics and RNA-seq. For this project, I had to learn Command Line on Linux, as well as begin to get familiar with R. I also performed a literature search on medulloblastoma, including how it has been recently subtyped and conventional therapies. My final presentation to the lab at the end of the summer was focused on medulloblastoma and reviewing its molecular background.
The internship was certainly influential as I thought about my future field of study. Human health has always been something I am very passionate about and being able to contribute to current discoveries both in Covid-19 and cancer work was extremely rewarding. My research also verified that I am pursuing the right field of study. I woke up every day excited for work and to hear online presentations, and while the literature searches were often long and difficult, they were incredibly interesting.
I thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Kraft Family, including Mr. Robert Kraft, Mr. Jonathan Kraft, and Mr. Joshua Kraft, from the bottom of my heart. I wouldn’t have been able to accept this opportunity without your generosity and I am so grateful for your support that allows me to pursue my interests and career goals. Thank you.