Julissa Molina-Vega ’19
Biology major, Biochemistry emphasis, and Chemistry minor
These scientific discoveries could bring hope to more than half of the patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
This summer, I did research with Dr. David Potter, an oncologist in the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Potter’s research lab focuses on the development of novel therapeutics for breast cancer through the study of cytochrome P450 enzymes in breast cancer progression.
During the summer of 2018, I worked in Dr. Potter’s lab investigating whether or not a biguanide (a class of organic compounds commonly used to treat diabetes) had any effect on cells’ nuclear pore complex, which is part of the membrane around a cell’s nucleus. Specifically, I investigated a biguanide called N1-henzyl-N5-benzyl-biguanide (HBB), which we discovered had an effect on estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), a protein that plays a crucial role in breast cancer development—and therefore helps us diagnose and fight tumors. This summer, I’m working to extend those findings and investigate how HBB affects gene expression and various cell functions.
This research is important because it could help us develop strategies to inhibit the growth and proliferation of breast cancer cells, and could potentially move HBB to clinical trials. These scientific discoveries could bring hope to more than half of the patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Before I started my research, Mac’s laboratory courses prepared me with many of the fundamental skills I would need. Completing pre-lab assignments and lab reports, designing experiments, following procedures, and learning safety protocols were important skills that I learned to conduct effective research. And more broadly, my science courses allowed me to continue improving my presentation and literature reading skills through oral presentations and assigned scientific articles.
The professors at Mac have high expectations for their students, but they’re also very understanding, and I think the school definitely prepares students with critical thinking and analytical skills for graduate school or medical school. While challenging, studying science at Mac has been an enriching experience.
March 2 2020Back to top