STEP Signature Project – Undergraduate Research in Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics

  1. During this past summer I stayed on campus to help conduct research in Dr. Gina Sizemore’s lab in the Radiation Oncology department of The Ohio State James Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her lab studies the brain metastatic tumor microenvironment through in vitro and in vivo mice modeling to provide more mechanistic information on how brain tumor microenvironment contributes to breast cancer metastatic progression. This summer, I was tasked with multiple responsibilities which included genotyping, helping in the mice room with dissections and daily work, tissue processing, staining slides, and taking pictures of slides using a microscope.


  1. After working this summer in the lab, I’ve realized how important the tedious work in the lab can be. Everything builds on each other and if one step is done improperly the results may not be accurate. From measuring tumors on mice which are millimeters long to pipetting samples in order to determine a mouse’s genotype through a PCR needs to be done with precision. I’ve also realized that I really love the science that is behind the research. As a pre-med student there is a lot of pressure to be involved in research for medical school applications, but honestly even if I wasn’t applying to medical school I would still like to be involved in this lab. Everyday I learn more, and find the work fascinating. In the future when I am a physician I would like to be working on research in order to help the medical community continue to push the envelope of what we can do in medicine.


  1. Throughout this entire experience I have gotten close and learned a lot from everyone in the lab. However, it was the relationship that I did get to form that brought me to this lab specifically. I come from two parents who are Egyptian immigrants. My grandmother who died before I was born past away from brain cancer tumor that metastasized from her breast cancer. This is the exact form of cancer that is being studied in this lab. It’s motivating to know that the work you are doing could one day give someone more time with their loved one.

    In the lab, I learned a lot from two research assistants that are on their gap years in between undergrad and medical school. I am also planning on taking a gap year in between undergrad and medical school and research is definitely something I have seriously considered doing during my gap year. On the contrary, the one thing that is holding me back from doing research in a lab over my gap year is that I really enjoy patient contact and interaction. That is one of the biggest reasons why I want to become a physician. I would like to make a direct impact in improving the quality of life in others.

    I also shadowed a couple doctors this summer in varying specialties. I really enjoyed shadowing a surgical urologist and combining that experience with my experiences in the mice room performing and observing dissections made me realize that surgery could be a possible route for me in the future. I love the hands on aspect to it, and the directness of it. You can’t get more direct in medicine than going into a patient’s body and fixing an issue using your hands or medical instruments.


  1. This summer was significant in my progression to become a physician because it gave me time to learn how important the scientific method and research is to medicine. Every technique in medicine was one time created and designed by someone. That is one reason why I love medicine, it is constantly evolving and being challenged. I like the room for innovation and looking for the most efficient way to perform a task. I am constantly doing that in my life and would love to be doing that to improve the lives of those afflicted. This summer had affirmed my love for the field of medicine.

One thought on “STEP Signature Project – Undergraduate Research in Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics

  1. Thanks so much for this reflection – it’s clear your experience here affirmed your passion for medicine and whether you choose to do this or something different in your gap year before med school, I’m sure you’ll make the most of that experience!

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