2014 Undergraduate Pelotonia Fellows

Greeshma Allareddy
Major – Biology
Mentor – Kathleen Boris-Lawrie, PhD
Project – The Coordinate Role of RNA Helicase A and Tax in HTLV-1 Induced Cell Transformation
Summary - Learn and understand how the interaction of two proteins, our cellular host protein RNA Helicase A (RHA) and an essential viral protein Tax, helps the virus, Human T-cell Leukeumia Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1), to hijack our cellular machinery, cause cells to transform and lead to Adult T-cell Leukemia/Lymphoma (ATLL). This information will provide insight into ways to therapeutically halt the transformation process, and eventually the spread of ATLL by specifically targeting these two proteins and/or their interactions in our cells.

Zaynab Amin
Major – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Frances Huebner, PhD
Project – The Timing and Effects of APOBEC3B and Fhit Expression Changes in Lung Cancer
Summary - This project will investigate genes that play a role in causing mutations that lead to cancer. We will focus on how the abnormal expression of the genes APOBEC3B (A3B) and FHIT leads to mutations found in many types of cancers. This research could lead to future diagnostic methods and treatment options involving A3B.


B. Rashmi Borah

Major – Philosophy and Microbiology
Mentor – Mariko Nakano, PhD
Project – Prophylactic Organ Removal as a Means of Cancer Prevention: A Programmatic Analysis of Relevant Ethical Considerations
Summary - This project will evaluate three arguments that contribute to determining the ethical status of prophylactic organ removal. The goal of this project is to show how these arguments help provide a more informed decision about prophylactic organ removal for individual patients.

Michael Butrey
Major – Biology
Mentor – Christin Burd, PhD
Project – Regulation of the INK4/ARF tumor suppressor locus with CTCF
Summary - To analyze the effects of blocking a molecule called CTCF, a protein that normally binds to DNA. This molecule binds to a particular region in DNA that is altered in most all forms of cancer. This information will give us more insight into how this region is changed by cancer cells, yielding more knowledge into the pathway that cancer cells use to continue to grow.

Zheng Che
Major – Microbiology
Mentor – Gregory Lesinski, PhD
Project – Cytostatic and immunomodulatory effects of MEK and Jak2 inhibition in biliary cancers
Summary - Determine how two experimental compounds combat immune suppression and growth of biliary cancer cells by identifying how they target the key survival pathway MAPK/ERK. This information could lead to new therapies that better inhibit tumor growth.

James DeBacker
Major – Speech and Hearing Science
Mentor – Eric Bielefeld
Project – Long Term Effects of the Synergistic Interaction of Cisplatin and Noise
Summary - Evaluate the effects of the chemotherapy drug on hearing ability even after the drug is no longer being administered. This will help to determine how long chemotherapy patients need to protect their hearing after stopping treatment and what kind of advice doctors should provide these patients.

Sam Dubin
Major – Neuroscience
Mentor – Balveen Kaur, PhD
Project – Enhancing Therapeutic Efficacy of an Oncolytic Virus with a CSF1R Inhibitor, GW2850
Summary - Oncolytic virus therapy utilizes specially engineered viruses to selectively destroy cancer. This type of virus therapy is emerging as a promising treatment against cancer. This study will evaluate if oncolytic viruses can be used to treat breast cancer that has spread to the brain. This study will also examine if oncolytic viruses can be combined with existing therapies to improve treatments for patients with this disease.

Andrew Eiterman
Major – Finance
Mentor – Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD
Project – Identification and Analysis of PTC Predisposing Variants in Thyroid Transcription Factor 1 Gene
Summary - Identify genetic variations predisposing individuals to papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) near TTF-1, a gene important for regulation of thyroid-specific genes, and analyze the effect of these variations on TTF-1 function and cancer growth. The results may prove important in developing possible treatments for PTC, as well as improve genetic counseling by identifying genetic variants putting individuals at risk for PTC.


Aaron Englander

Major – Economics
Mentor – Paul Healy and Katherine Coffman
Project – Uncertain Prognoses and Cancer Patients’ Emotional Outlook
Summary - I use the tools of decision theory and experimental economics to study how to improve doctor-patient communication of cancer prognoses involving significant ambiguity.


Javkhlan-Ochir Ganbat

Major – Computer Science and Engineering
Mentor – Ralf Bundschuh, PhD
Project – MBD-BS: Accurate and cost efficient analysis of Genome Wide DNA methylation
Summary - Designing a new tool to investigate genome wide methylation pattern. Methylation plays an important role in tumor and cancer development and this tool will provide information on cancer diagnosis as well as potential therapy.


Nikhil Gupta

Major – Biochemistry
Mentor – John Byrd, MD
Project – The Role of Epigenetic Modifications, Including Hydroxymethylation, in the Transcriptional Regulation of ZAP-70 in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Summary - Examine how changes in DNA change how much ZAP-70, a protein that when present in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) indicates more aggressive disease, is present in cancer cells. Understanding these DNA changes may provide a new source for therapy to target, and will give more information on cancer biology.

Andrea Holderbaum
Major – Biology
Mentor – Christin Burd, PhD
Project – Cooperation of NRASQ61R and Ultra-Violet Radiation in the Etiology of Malignant Melanoma
Summary - Investigate the role of ultra-violet radiation in the development of melanoma and identify genetic mutations caused by exposure to ultra-violet radiation which contribute to the formation of melanoma. This information will be used to develop effective therapies for patients with melanoma as well as to evaluate measures which could prevent tumors from forming.

Kaitlin Keenan
Major – Biomedical Science
Mentor – Gregory Lesinski, PhD
Project – STAT3 Inhibition in Biliary Cancer
Summary - Demonstrate how a new compound blocks a key molecule called STAT3, a protein that helps cancer cells escape the immune system and continue dividing. This information will be used to improve therapy for biliary cancer, a devastating cancer of the bile duct.

Gregory Kemper
Major – Microbiology
Mentor – William Carson, MD
Project – Improvement of BRAF Therapy of Melanoma via Proteasome Inhibition
Summary - Treatment of BRAF mutant melanoma with a BRAF inhibitor (vemurafenib) in combination with a proteasome inhibitor (MLN2238) will be studied. If the pre-clinical studies are successful, this drug combination may represent a new treatment regimen to be studied in a clinical trial setting for melanoma patients.


Alisha Lad

Major – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Stephen A. Osmani, PhD
Project – Investigating the role of NIMA kinase and Eb1 Interaction in microtubule dynamics during cell cycle regulation
Summary - The aim of my project is to understand the potential role of the NIMA protein kinase in microtubule dynamics by studying its interaction with microtubule binding protein Eb1. This information will be useful in the development of cancer therapy drugs targeting microtubule dynamics.


Heidi Liou
Major – Fashion and Retail Studies
Mentor – Candace Stout
Project – Stronger Than Ever: A Narrative and Photographic Project of OSU Student Cancer Survivors
Summary - Stronger Than Ever is a photojournalism project, putting together stories and inspirational quotes of young adult cancer survivors in the Columbus community.


Peter Lyon

Major – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Amanda Simcox, PhD
Project – Genetic analysis of Drosophila ADAMTS (CG4096) – a novel negative regulator of Egfr signaling
Summary - The Egfr pathway, which relays signals controlling cell division, plays an important role in cancer, including breast cancer. Our lab has identified a new protein in the Egfr pathway that is a negative regulator. The aim of this project is to conduct genetic and biochemical analyses of this protein in order to more fully understand how it regulates the Egfr pathway.


Rachel Miller

Major – Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Mentor – William Carson, MD
Project - Investigation of protein-protein interactions among the cell polarity determinants
Summary - Evaluate how different genes interact to establish cell polarity in budding yeast. A disruption in cell polarity is a hallmark of cancer and is commonly observed in tumors. Genes that regulate polarity mechanisms offer a potential new class of tumor suppressors.


Alina Murphy

Major – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Gustavo Leone, PhD
Project – Rb, FoxM1, and Gene Regulation Pathways in Cancer
Summary - Discover more about the way two proteins called FoxM1 and Rb function together in the cell to control cell division. Cancer is caused by cells dividing too quickly, so learning more about these proteins may lead to new cancer treatments.

Mara Nickel
Major – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Michael Ostrowski, PhD
Project – Discerning the mechanism of microRNA regulation in tumor-associated macrophages which promotes breast cancer metastasis
Summary - Confirm the compartment of breast cancer-promoting protein signals in tumor cells and suggest a mechanism for their signaling. This information could allow for further discoveries in targeted therapeutic treatments of breast cancer.


Maria Paskell

Major – Pharmaceutical Sciences
Mentor – Don Benson, MD, PhD
Project – Targeting AHR to enhance natural killer cell function against multiple myeloma
Summary - Investigate the means by which a potential therapeutic agent, called an aryl hydrocarbon receptor antagonist, improves natural killer cells’ ability to kill multiple myeloma tumor cells. This information may be used to improve therapy for multiple myeloma, a presently incurable cancer of the blood.


Ronak Patel

Major – Biology
Mentor – Janice Kiecolt-Glaser,PhD
Project – Socioeconomic status, social support, and perceived daily stress among breast cancer survivors
Summary - Measure how social support, socioeconomic hardship, and perceived stress affect the lives of cancer survivors through the use of the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (ISEL), Daily Inventory of Stressful Events (DISE), and Socioeconomic Status (SES). The results from this study will be used to link all these factors to help improve the quality of lives of cancer survivors and their families.


Archit Sahai

Major – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – David M. Bisaro
Project – AL2 involvement in RNA-dependent-DNA-methylation
Summary - Understand how a plant virus protein called AL2 interacts with helper proteins to change DNA expression. This may allow us to understand how cancer cells change the expression of key genes that eventually lead to the development of cancer.


Zamon Sawyer

Major – Biology
Mentor – Helen Chamberlin, PhD
Project – A Window of Opportunity: How the PAX Gene Family May Lend Insight to Cancer Cell Proliferation
Summary - Learn what role paired box genes, called PAX genes, play in the production of fatty acids. Cancer cells require fatty acids in order to grow and communicate with other cells, and finding the genes that regulate fatty acid production will lend insight to how best to disrupt the rapid growth of cancer cells.

Nisitha Sengottuvel
Major – Molecular Genetics
Mentor – Natarajan Muthusamy, DVM, PhD
Project – Investigating the Role of the Ets-1 Protein in Marginal Zone B Cell Differentiation and Survival
Summary - We have created a mouse that does not make a protein called Ets-1. Absence of this protein affected the growth and development of a type of white blood cell called B cells. We want to learn how this protein controls normal growth of B cells and what happens when this protein is not working right. Learning this will help us to understand how certain lymphomas are created and can be treated.


Connor Sullivan

Major – Biochemistry
Mentor – Gustavo Leone, PhD
Project – Determining a molecular basis for variable penetrance utilizing low- and high-penetrant Rb mutant cell lines
Summary - To investigate the molecular basis for why some mutations in RB will always lead to cancer and other mutations in RB cause cancer in only some cases. Results from this study could help to better inform mutation carriers of the risk posed to their offspring and also aid in predicting tumor progression of cancers where an RB mutation exists.

Ross Wanner
Major – Biology Pre-Medicine
Mentor – Selvendiran Karuppaiyah, PhD
Project – Determination of HO-3867 bio-absorption and molecular composition of cellular metabolites
Summary - An analog of the naturally occurring compound curcumin inhibits ovarian cancer, most notably in a STAT3 mediated manner. This project is designed to study the modes of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of this novel anti-cancer compound within platinum sensitive and resistant cell lines, over various time periods. The experimental data will be analyzed to find ideal dosages of the compound, which in turn will aid the transition of this drug from pre-clinical into clinical trials.

Benjamin Wissel
Major – Biomedical Engineering
Mentor – Jessica Winter, PhD
Project – Migratory Variations in Glioblastoma Subtypes
Summary - Learn about the migratory variations different subtypes of Glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive type of brain cancer, have. Insight into the way these subtypes behave could lead to doctors being able to more effectively treat the specific subtype of Glioblastoma a patient has, rather treating all the different subtypes the same way. Ultimately, this will lead to more effective personalized treatment for Glioblastoma.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) 300 W. 10th Ave. Columbus, OH 43210 Phone: 1-800-293-5066 | Email: jamesline@osumc.edu