1. For my research, I examined the anti-tumorigenic functions of Ibrutinib in Hepatocellular Carcinoma cell lines. In lab, I explored the potential inhibiting effects Ibrutinib on downstream regulation of pathways of EGFR. I also investigated several genes that may be involved in the EGFR pathway, which also lead to regulation of cell proliferation, cell cycle and anti-apoptotic pathways in cancer cells.
2. My understanding in the field of research has changed through working in the lab. My assumptions on how research is conducted, especially in wet lab research, which is what my lab primarily focuses on, along with process of conducting research, such as receiving funds, buying/using materials, coming up with research topics, working with others in lab, learning how to use different machines and the mechanisms behind the use of the machines, and presenting research to others. Also, my views on the extent of how extensive the process of research and the significance of time dedication, focus/passion, and teamwork/mentorship that goes into research has changed through being in the lab.
I also learned that in research, things don’t always turn out as I planned, and how results might be unpredictable, depending on the research conducted. Although this is a difficult aspect to learn regarding research, I realize that no research method is perfect, and that is why it is important to have supportive mentor and lab members in the team to help out when in need. In addition, I learned the reason why research is a slow and ongoing process in the scientific field, and it is often rare to discover things “overnight” and that it is rather a process that requires tremendous effort and revision.
3. By working in lab, I learned various lab techniques that I have never tried before joining the lab, such as RT-PCR, gel electrophoresis, mouse-tail DNA extraction, cell culture, colonogenic formation assay, Western-blotting, and animal handling among other basic lab skills. Learning these lab skills alone took me a long time. Even though I have been part of the lab during the school year, between academics and extra-curricular activities, it is often hard to find extended periods of time to dedicate to research. Hence, being able to focus solely on research through the project experience has helped me learn and concentrate on my research project. Through this experience, I was able to fulfill my goal of strengthening my skills in research, to develop working relationships with the people in my lab and to foster professional skills and connections important in the field of research and my career goals.
Conducting research has been (partly) an emotional and mental rollercoaster for me, as some days experiments went really well with good results and I would be extra motivated and excited about my research, whereas sometime things didn’t always go in the direction that I wanted. One of the biggest lesson I learned, as I’m sure many others have faced, is the conflicts that come up when conducting research and the ways to deal with these obstacles. The hardest times for me when conducting research was when I would spend several days growing cell lines, extracting protein, then running Western Blots, to see results not show up on the blots, or when I would pour hours upon hours growing cell lines, extracting cDNA, only to see that results didn’t really correspond to what I was expecting. There were other minor struggles such as cells not growing in a timely manner, for some reason, which would mean the experiments had to keep getting pushed back, and other time related hardships that interfered with producing results. But because I wasn’t under immense time constraint, I was able to work under relatively lower stress than during the school year, when I would have been more frustrated.
Through listening to the discussions of my PI and other members about grants our lab could apply to fund our research, I learned that research wasn’t only about actually conducting and doing experiments, but also about finding ways to support the research project. Also, working with other lab members taught me the importance of team work within research. I learned that because research is such a vast and gradual process, collaboration is a key component in achieving greater means in research. Collaboration ranges anything from borrowing other lab’s equipment, to asking others for help in an uncertain research methods, to discussing with others during lab meetings and receiving suggestions on ways to improve your research project in ways that you may never have thought of before. Also, by learning technical lab skills, and presenting my research project in front of my lab members and PI during lab meetings, it has helped me gain valuable experience on communicating and explaining my research to other members of the lab who may not be as familiar with my research topic. Through this, I learned to not only conduct and collect data, but also to analyze the data I’ve collected along with being able to delve even deeper into my research, as I had to be prepared to answer and explain questions about my research and incorporate feedback from my lab members about my research.
Being involved in research has taught me that there is more to the medical field than just health care and being a health professional. Through these experiences, I have a new found appreciation for the researchers in the science field, who work tremendously hard and work together to help make progress in improving the medical field.
4. Although I am uncertain whether I will continue with the same field of research as part of my career, I am interested in conducting cancer research in the future, as my research experience has significantly influenced me as an individual and shaped my future goals. As I have spent months working and conducting my research project, I felt that I am interested in research and the different aspects that research has to offer. Although I am still planning on applying to medical school in the future, this has not stopped me from considering research as part of my career. Even if I end up becoming a medical doctor, I want to continue to conduct research in the future as this opportunity has made me look into ways that I can get involved in research while being a doctor.
Through this opportunity, I was able to get involved in research project in my lab, as I continue to pursue my goal of being part of the field of medicine. I think funds such as STEP is a critical part of the university, and it is crucial that Ohio State continues to encourage students to get involved with what they are passionate about. I am truly grateful for STEP in providing individuals like me an opportunity to pursue their passion.