Senjuti Gayen ’23

Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

This summer, I was granted the opportunity to return to Boston as a research intern at the Hormoz Lab under Dr. Christoph Budjan’s mentorship. Last summer and academic year, I worked as an intern remotely through working on data analysis. This summer, I was able to work in person, learning many laboratory techniques and getting to know members of the Hormoz Lab. Dr. Budjan’s research is focused on developmental biology, with the current focus being on developing blood progenitors. Having already learned concepts of developmental biology last summer, this was an excellent chance for me to dive deeper into blood development, and the process behind the generation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in embryonic development that give rise to our entire blood system. Overall, I loved being able to expand my biological research experience and work in person this summer.

In the lab.

I began by shadowing and observing Dr. Budjan. Then, I attempted the protocols myself, with Dr. Budjan watching and providing assessments and adjustments to refine my process. Then, of course, I was able to work independently, though I also had Dr. Budjan to consult with if I reached a problem I alone could not solve. Some of the protocols I’ve been exposed to this summer include learning about flow cytometry, clearing, and immunofluorescence imaging. I have also learned how to culture and maintain mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs), and how they can be used to create gastruloids. Beyond this general overview, I also focused on optimizing elements of the protocol for the gastruloids development, such as initial cell count, and learning which markers to isolate to track the gastruloids’ potential to provide potential HSCs for isolation. Finally, I continued working on my project from last summer, analyzing data from repeated trials of the same experiment but with different cell lines to ensure that the results are not dependent on the specific cell lines used initially.

I have been interested in the research field since high school, and I am glad that I have been fortunate enough to have another chance at expanding my research knowledge and experiences. There is even a chance that I will be able to continue with this research while studying abroad, as our collaborators who are working on this project are also abroad where I am planning on studying. In terms of future course selection, I am thinking of taking developmental biology courses to continue to build on what I’ve learned this summer.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Budjan, and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration. Thank you for all your help and support that has allowed me to pursue the experience of a lifetime that has further affirmed my interests in research and medicine. I thank you all sincerely for believing in me and my abilities to learn and excel.