I am a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Environmental Health Sciences in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. I became interested in stem cells through my position as a research fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in the Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory where I study regulators of stem cell homeostasis. Based on my interest in stem cell biology, I applied to work with the Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging at Harvard Medical School under the direction of Dr. Khalid Shah. The Shah lab works to develop novel stem cell based therapies for cancer.
In my time in the Shah lab, I have been working to develop a combined therapy for glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. We are interested in combining viruses that have been engineered to selectively target and kill tumor cells with immune-based therapies. These additional therapies aim to increase the efficacy of viral-based therapies. Both of these types of therapy will be loaded into stem cells to enhance their delivery to the tumor site. This approach makes use of the natural ability of stem cells to home to the site of tumors and avoid detection by the immune system. The efficacy of these treatments will then be validated in clinically relevant mouse models.