“Professor Devavani Chatterjea’s focus on “How was the textbook information discovered?” along with lots of primary literature, opened the door to biomedical research. — Liang “Adrian” Chang 

BY | Liang “Adrian” Chang ’16 (Jinan, China)
Biology, Applied Math and Statistics

This summer, I spent three months conducting research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a top cancer center, studying the metastasis mechanisms of breast cancer.

Once the tumor cells spread to the whole body, treatment becomes difficult and the prognosis is poor. I found a novel signaling pathway related to “SNAIL,” a notorious transcription factor in breast cancer metastasis. My research finding will hopefully contribute to a new therapeutic development to control breast cancer metastasis.

This is my second summer in the same MD Anderson research lab. I started the project last summer and enjoyed the freedom of working on it independently this summer. I read plenty of scientific literature to get new inspiration, designed experiments, and performed these experiments with my own hands.

I love the atmosphere in this lab. The principle investigator of our lab, Dr. Li Ma, is an exceptional scientist and research mentor. She shared great insights on my project during our weekly one-on-one meetings. I’m especially grateful that she uses PhD-student criteria to train me.

What I have learned from Mac courses and professors is invaluable to my lab research. Professor Devavani Chatterjea’s cell biology class in my freshman year was the opposite of a typical memorizing-intensive intro class. Her focus on “How was the textbook information discovered?” along with lots of primary literature, opened the door to biomedical research. Professor Mary Montgomery’s developmental biology class in my junior year equipped me with strong research paper reading and analyzing skills.

Mac’s location in Twin Cities also benefits my research. I have had small classes with personal attention at Mac, but also access to the University of Minnesota, a major research university just 20 minutes away. I spent my first-year summer and my whole junior year in the cancer labs of the U, great preparation for my work at MD Anderson.

The most important take-away from this summer: Research is not a nine-to-five job; it requires passion and persistence. Most of the experiments will not work the first time, or even the second time. I can’t remember how many times I treated hundreds of plates of cells for a whole afternoon, or waited for a Western blot result on Sunday until midnight. But when I finally got protein bands of the right size or cells with the right fluorescence, the triumph was indescribable. This is the magic of research.

December 14 2015

Back to top