Many Ways to Study IBC

I came into the program with enthusiasm, I was excited in the sense that I would be able to continue doing research which is something I was unable to do during my first year at Duke. I was lucky enough to get into Dr. Devi’s lab which is centered in studying inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). With any research experience, there is background reading that must be done to have a good understanding of the project you might be working on. The papers I’ve read were fascinating, they revolved around different proteins that have been identified to help IBC cells, the difficulties in treating IBC, and different environmental factors that may aid IBC cell growth. Reading research articles are never easy, new content is thrown at you but over the week by asking questions and rereading the articles, I now have a greater understanding than I did before.

Not only did I read research articles but I also shadowed other staff members working in Dr. Devi lab which is Ph.D. student, Risa Gearhart, and Dr. Xuhui Bao. I shadowed Risa cell culture SUM149, which is the cancer cell lines we are using to experiment on IBC. Furthermore, she counted the cells of the culture she created via a microscope and cell seeded them. The culture she created was treated with different concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) which will be used for tumor emboli experiments. Unfortunately, there was a computer malfunction that occurred which enable us from imaging the process of the tumor emboli, so this experiment will be redone next week. Risa is also continuing a previous experiment which involves the usage of western blot development on MDAMB231 cells which is another procedure I saw her perform.

Dr. Bao is still focused on IBC but one of his experiments is centered on in vitro mice models. On Thursday, he showed me the mice that were being tested on and the window chambers that were placed on them to allow him to see the progression of the IBC throughout the lymphatic system via a microscope. Unlike other breast cancers, IBC forms no one solid tumor mass but instead forms characteristic diffuse tumor cell clusters. Therefore, he is imaging the spread of these IBC clusters on mice to better understand the flow of these clusters and what allows such cancer to do so.

Since there was a computer malfunction, I have spent some of my time writing up an introduction to my project and gathering results from experiments done in the past. The first half of my introduction focuses on giving readers an understanding of what IBC is, it’s unique characteristics and findings that Dr. Devi’s lab has made in the past. I am excited to see what project I will be working on this summer, Dr. Devi has given me the freedom this week to explore different aspects of her lab and see which project I will be interested in working on. Since my interest lies in pharmacy, I have been considering doing more research on IBC and DSF-Cu, or testing different treatments on IBC and seeing the effects that certain treatments will cause. Again, I’m excited for the work I will be doing, and I’m eager to see where my project goes.

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