Research

We are aware that many applicants will not be familiar with cancer and/or cancer research. Unless it has impacted your family, this is to be expected. Our projects are described using their official titles; It is perfectly fine if this seems like a foreign language to you. We invite you to please read each carefully as you will see that the researchers have identified specific opportunities in which you can make a difference. Each of these cancer scientists is excited about welcoming you onto their team!


Research Projects: 
2018 Projects

Implementation: Community-Based Outreach, Education, and Research | Public Health

Students will work with the research team to conduct cancer screening and prevention with research project targeting under-resourced communities in the Yale Cancer Center catchment area. Student will participate in the development of questionnaires, data collection, focus groups, and qualitative and quantitative data analysis. This student will participate in team meetings and will assist in community outreach activities


Molecular Cell Biology, Genetics, and Development | Cell Biology and Genetics

The hallmark feature of many cancerous cells are changes to the shape of the nucleus, the organelle that houses the genome. The mechanisms that lead to these morphological nuclear abnormalities remain to be fully understood. In order to help explain how nuclear structure is changed upon cellular transformation, our laboratory is interested in defining the underlying molecular mechanisms that ensure the integrity of the nucleus. The student will perform a genetic screen in a budding yeast model that is prone to nuclear rupture to identify pathways that are required for driving losses of nuclear integrity or novel repair pathways


Functional Genomics of Human Brain Development: Core B, Bioinformatics | Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

The project will involve the use of genomics data to understand the change of gene expression and epigenetic (chromatin modification) information in various cell types in the brain during the course of development. The student will work to identify clear patterns of change, and relevant genes and regulatory regions of the genome involved in the development of various cell types in the human brain. In this project, the student will learn about the scientific method, read scientific literature, present research findings to their colleagues, code in a computer language of choice to carry out scientific research, and practice actively asking questions and communicating research in written form.


Gene-Targeted Apoptosis as a Treatment for HER2-Postitive Breast Cancer | Therapeutic Radiology 

Approximately 30% of diagnosed breast cancers are HER2-positive, causing their cancer to grow more aggressively. Our project aims to design new anti-cancer drugs that can help HER2-positive patients that suffer from drug resistance. We will design synthetic DNA molecules, called oligonucleotides to only bind to the DNA of the HER2 gene. When these oligonucleotides bind to DNA they will alter the normal DNA structure causing the cell to recognize it as damaged and to activate its own death. The differences between the numbers of HER2 genes in normal cells versus cancer cells, will allow us to only kill the breast cancer cells and not the normal cells. Students can expect to learn basic biochemistry and laboratory techniques while performing supervised bench experiments.

 

2017 Projects

Role of Retromer-mediated Retrograde Transport in HPV Entry | Genetics

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are an important cause of disease including some forms of cancer. We are studying how these viruses enter cells as the first step in infection and the development of cancer. We are identifying cell proteins that help deliver the virus into cells. This project focuses on how natural cell processes allow HPV to enter a healthy cell. Students should expect to learn how to grow human cells in the laboratory, transfer genes into cells, and how to clone genes. Students’ main responsibilities will be to grow cells and bacteria, purify DNA, and carrying out basic recombinant DNA experiments.


Program on the Molecular Basis of Cancer Viral Transformation Role of Gamma-Secretase in HPV Transformation | Genetics 

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are an important cause of disease including some forms of cancer. We are studying how these viruses enter cells as the first step in infection and the development of cancer. We are identifying cell proteins that help deliver the virus into cells. This project focuses on how one protein in particular, Gamma-Secretase, helps HPV become infectious. Students should expect to learn how to grow human cells in the laboratory, transfer genes into cells, and how to clone genes. Students’ main responsibilities will be to grow cells and bacteria, purify DNA, and carrying out basic recombinant DNA experiments.


Analysis of Cell Transformation by Bovine Papillomavirus | Genetics

Most cell biochemical functions are carried out by proteins. We have invented a new class of artificial proteins that are simpler than any proteins that arose during evolution. We are conducting experiments to increase the activity of these proteins to make them more useful. Students should expect to learn how to grow human cells in the laboratory, transfer genes into cells, and how to clone genes. Students’ main responsibilities will be to grow cells and bacteria, purify DNA, and carrying out basic recombinant DNA experiments.


A Mail- and Video-based Weight Loss Trial in Breast Cancer Survivors | Public Health 

Women who have experienced menopause are more likely to develop breast cancer if they are obese. This project tries to reduce the risk of cancer by addressing obesity and tests whether a mail- and video-based weight loss trial will help cancer survivors lose weight. Students can expect to help with data collection, perform literature searches, and learn basic statistical analysis.
 

A Research and Training Program for Junior Clinicians in Treating Metastatic Melanoma | Medical Oncology 

CROY applicants will learn to analyze tumors from melanoma patients treated with immune therapies to identify molecules in tumors or immune cells that might be associated with sensitivity or resistance to treatment. Students can expect to learn how to conduct immunoflouresence staining, perform Western blotting, and to learn basic statistical analysis for data generation. Students’ main responsibilities will be to perform bench experiments in a supervised setting and sharing results at lab meetings.


DNA Polymerase Fidelity Mechanisms: Theory and Experiment | Therapeutic Radiology/Radiation Oncology

The goal of this project is to understand how the enzymes that produce DNA, called DNA polymerases, synthesize DNA. We are interested in understanding each step of the chemical reaction. Students can expect to learn basic biochemistry and molecular biology techniques by working with postdoctoral associates to prepare and run experiments.


DNA Polymerase Beta and Mutagenesis | Therapeutic Radiology/Radiation Oncology

The goal of this project is to determine how a DNA synthesizing enzyme called a DNA polymerase, knows to incorporate A opposite T and G opposite C during DNA synthesis. Students can expect to gain an understanding of the basics about DNA polymerases and to learn basic molecular biology and biochemistry techniques. This is accomplished working with postdoctoral associates to prepare and run experiments.


Validating the Patient-Reported Experiences of Discrimination in Care Tool | Public Health

This project examines the influence of discrimination in healthcare settings using both numerical and interview data, and it seeks to describe the role of patient perspectives in addressing health disparities. Students can expect to learn the research principles behind different study designs and how to design and conduct a study that only uses patient data. Students’ main responsibilities will be to conduct literature searches, manage data, and interpret basic statistical findings.


Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network (ECHORN) | Public Health

This project explores the prevalence and risk factors of chronic diseases in the Eastern Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago. This project seeks to describe the role of patient perspectives in addressing health disparities. Students can expect to learn the research principles behind different study designs and how to design and conduct a study that only uses patient data. Students’ main responsibilities will be to conduct literature searches, manage data, and interpret basic statistical findings.


Gene-Targeted Apoptosis as a Treatment for HER2-Postitive Breast Cancer | Therapeutic Radiology 

Approximately 30% of diagnosed breast cancers are HER2-positive, causing their cancer to grow more aggressively. Our project aims to design new anti-cancer drugs that can help HER2-positive patients that suffer from drug resistance. We will design synthetic DNA molecules, called oligonucleotides to only bind to the DNA of the HER2 gene. When these oligonucleotides bind to DNA they will alter the normal DNA structure causing the cell to recognize it as damaged and to activate its own death. The differences between the numbers of HER2 genes in normal cells versus cancer cells, will allow us to only kill the breast cancer cells and not the normal cells. Students can expect to learn basic biochemistry and laboratory techniques while performing supervised bench experiments.