Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?
I wanted to join a graduate program that would not only provide me with exceptional training to become an independent investigator but would also be a good support system and an advocate for my training experience. The administrative staff of IU School of Medicine Indiana BioMedical Gateway (IBMG) program have been an amazing resource. I knew they would make sure I had access to resources and opportunities I needed to successfully matriculate and get through my PhD training. Their enthusiasm and dedication shared with students is also apparent in faculty and student interactions. Even before joining the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, it was very evident that the faculty cared about graduate student development and learning. I could sense all of this from the very beginning, and I knew this was the right program for me.
What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?
My favorite academic accomplishment thus far was being selected to participate in and completing the Cold Spring Harbor Workshop on Pancreatic Cancer in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, which was made possible by an award from the Lustgarten Foundation and support from a supplement grant from the NIH. I was able to participate in a workshop which covered both advances and the current state of pancreatic cancer research as well as interact with and learn from leaders in the field from all around the US and Canada. Having an opportunity to attend this workshop was a life changing experience in terms of my academic training.
What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?
What I like most about living in Indianapolis is the food. There are so many great restaurants with foods from different cultures. And I think we also have some of the best food trucks here.
Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.
My lab works on pancreatic cancer. We use genetically engineered mouse models to study the progression of the disease. Pancreatic cancer currently has an 8-9% survival rate, and patients often present late and with advanced, metastatic disease. My projects have involved using the CRISPR-Cas9 technology to study the effect of a transcription factor in the TGF-β signaling pathway, and it’s involvement in the epithelial to mesenchymal transition phenomenon, which has been linked to cancer metastasis. I also am working on a murine model of pancreatic cancer to better understand the role of a tumor suppressor in regulating pancreatic cancer cell metastasis.