2012 Undergraduate Pelotonia Fellows

Taylor Brooks Taylor Brooks
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: William Carson, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Surgery
Project: Characterization and Immortalization of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells
Project Summary: Immortalize myeloid-derived suppressor cells, a cell almost nonexistent in healthy people, but an important cell in the study of cancer. Creating a stock of these cells can lead to experiments which target them and develop therapeutic strategies for cancer patients.​



Michael Chang Michael Chang
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Deborah Parris, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Project: Control of Fidelity by the Herpes Simplex Virus DNA Polymerase-Associated Exonuclease
Project Summary: Examine the mechanisms that contribute to the faithful and accurate replication of DNA by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) DNA polymerase. By understanding this process, new antiviral drugs can be produced to target this process, ultimately preventing or curing herpesvirus-associated cancers, such as certain lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma. In addition, HSV DNA replication is a model for DNA replication in humans and will allow us to better understand how errors in DNA replication occur that can lead to cancer.​


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Danielle Chappell Danielle Chappell
Major: Microbiology
Mentors: John Byrd and Natarajan Muthusamy, MD & DVM, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: Pulling the Molecular Lynchpin of CLL Microenvironment Chemotaxis by Blocking Phosphorlyation of Lymphocyte Cytosolic Protein 1 (LCP1)
Project Summary: Lymphocyte Cytosolic Protein 1 (LCP1) is a gene that is critical for the movement of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells. This project will show that the addition of a phosphate group at a specific location in the LCP1 molecule is essential for the migration of CLL cells to nutrient sites. Inhibiting the movement of CLL cells to these nutrient sites could delay CLL progression. This research may improve cancer treatment and extend the lives of patients with this incurable disease.​

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Robert Easterling Robert Easterling
Majors: Microbiology & Philosophy
Mentor: Michael Bailey, PhD, College of Dentistry, Division of Oral Biology
Project: Examination of Stressor-Enhanced Inflammatory Macrophages: Implications for Colorectal Cancer
Project Summary​: Examine cells responsible for inflammation in the colon. This may lead to better strategies to prevent or reduce colonic inflammation, which can be very effective in preventing or slowing cancer growth.


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Ryan FitzGerald Ryan FitzGerald
Major: Biology
Mentor: David Cohn, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Project: Impact of PTEN Status on c-Met pathway in Endometrial Cancer
Project Summary​: Evaluate the role that PTEN plays in the c-Met pathway and determine if and how that role is altered by various PTEN mutations. Also, determine how the effectiveness of anti-c-Met pathway therapy varies with altered PTEN status. Thus, given a patient’s PTEN status, anti-c-Met chemotherapy could be tailored to meet their specific needs.


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Ben Hemmelgarn Ben Hemmelgarn
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Gustavo Leone, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Project: Dissecting the Intersection Between the RB and MYC Pathways in vivo
Project Summary​: Investigate the relationship between the Rb tumor suppressor and c-Myc transcription factor in the mouse small intestine. This study aims to discover the connection between two very important cell cycle regulators in order to paint a more perfect picture of carcinogenesis.


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Brian Hurwitz Brian Hurwitz
Major: Biomedical Science
Mentor: Balveen Kaur, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery
Project: Enhancing Therapeutic Efficacy of Oncolytic Viruses with Proteosome Inhibitor, Bortezomib
Project Summary: Evaluate the efficacy of combining two novel anti-cancer agents in glioblastoma, an incurable brain cancer. Studying how bortezomib, a drug that blocks the cell's ability to degrade protein, interacts with viruses engineered to specifically harm cancer cells will provide insight into how both cancer therapies can be used to treat brain cancers.​


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Mariam Hussain Mariam Hussain
Majors: Neuroscience & Psychology
Mentor: Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, College of Medicine, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Project: An Investigation into the Link Between Heart Rate Variability and Intrusive Thoughts: Implications for Cancer Survivors
Project Summary: Determine the link between negatively persistent stressful thoughts and the variation in time intervals between heartbeats. My project may reveal the direct negative impact of traumatic cancer experiences on an individual’s health, as well as the vulnerability cancer survivors face towards certain health problems. This information can help with the identification of cancer survivors who are at risk for long-term health problems such as heart problems and pain syndromes.​

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Srirama Josyula Srirama Josyula
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Michael Caligiuri, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: MicroRNA-155: Role in CD16 mediated NK cell function in vivo against cancer
Project Summary​: The human immune system has an inherent defense mechanism against cancer through the natural killer cell. My project will identify the potential of using the molecule microRNA-155 to enhance the natural killer cell response. This will provide information on targeted methods of treatment that may improve current antibody therapies of cancer.


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Cally McGee Cally McGee
Major: Anthropology
Mentor: Jian-Qiu Wu, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics
Project: A conserved role for Rho GTPases in fission yeast contractile-ring assembly
Project Summary


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Kinshuk Mitra Kinshuk Mitra
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Mentors: Ronald Xu and Michael Tweedle, PhDs, College of Engineering and College of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Engineering & Department of Radiology
Project: Novel medical device for enrichment and detection of circulating tumor cells
Project Summary​: Investigate the roles of a family of similar proteins called Rho GTPases, which are overactive in human cancer cells, in cell division in the model organism Schizosaccharomyces pombe. My study will improve our understanding of how cell division occurs in normal and cancer cells.


Marilly Palettas Marilly Palettas
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Michael Ostrowski, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Project: The Role of PKC β in Breast Cancer Tumor Progression
Project Summary: Evaluate the role of the gene PKCβ in tumor initiation and progression and examine potential interactions within the local tumor microenvironment. Gaining a better mechanistic understanding of the role of PKCβ will provide insight for future studies focused on PKCβ specific inhibitors as well as more effective therapeutic treatments.​



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Ravi Patel Ravi Patel
Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Project: miR-3151 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Target gene identification and analysis of the pathophysiologic consequences of miR-3151 overexpression
Project Summary​: Characterize the role of a microRNA, miR-3151, in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) on cell proliferation, survival and differentiation as well as identify and validate targets of the miR-3151. This information may lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies for patients with AML.
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Emilia Plevris Emilia Plevris
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Gustavo Leone, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Project: Study of DEN induced Hepatocellular Carcinoma using E2F transgene mouse model
Project Summary: Investigate control of cell growth and division by evaluating the relationship between the E2F1, E2F7, and E2F8 proteins. Considering that tumors are a result of overgrowth, determining these protein’s roles may increase understanding of liver cancer and provide potential targets for therapy.​


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Tyler Siekman Tyler Siekman
Major: Biomedical Science
Mentor: Amanda Toland, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics
Project: Identification of a Novel Intronic Enhancer in Hdac9 Leading to Skin Tumor Susceptibility
Project Summary: Evaluate how changes in the genetic code of a region of the Hdac9 gene can lead to the enhancement of nearby genes and thus increase skin cancer susceptibility. This information will be used to better understand the genetic risk factors of non-melanoma skin cancers.​


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Divya Subramanian Divya Subramanian
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Mitch Phelps, PhD, College of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmaceutics
Project: The Role of Nucleoside Transporters in Immunomodulatory Drug Therapy
Project Summary: We will study the means by which immunomodulatory drugs derived from thalidomide are transported across membranes of cancer cells, immune cells, and eliminating tissues, such as kidney and liver. Specifically we will evaluate if these agents are substrates or inhibitors for nucleoside transporters, which are differentially regulated and act as entry pathways for other anti-tumor agents. This may provide insight for improving immunomodulatory drug delivery to targeted cells and for avoiding potential drug-drug interactions in combination dosing regimens.​


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Justin Tossey Justin Tossey
Major: Microbiology
Mentor: Andrea Doseff, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: The Role of Flavones in Hsp27-Regulated Apoptosis in Non-Small Cell Lung Carcinomas
Project Summary​: Determine if natural plant compounds are able to make lung cancers more sensitive to chemotherapy, and examine how this works at the molecular level. This research could lead to a greater understanding as to why cancer cells refuse to die, as well as potentially improving current chemotherapy treatments.


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Rachel Weiskittle Rachel Weiskittle
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Sharla Wells-Di Gregorio, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Project: The Impact of Palliative Care for Cancer Patients and their Family Members
Project Summary​: Determine whether family members of patients who received palliative care report less psychological distress about experiences in the patients’ final days than family members of those who did not receive a specialty palliative care consult. Results from this study will identify leading causes of stress for cancer patients and their families within their hospital experiences.


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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