2011 Undergraduate Pelotonia Fellows

Yousef Alghothani
Major: Biology and Arabic
Mentor: Don Benson, MD, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: Characterization of PD-L1 expression in multiple myeloma
Project Summary: Learn how cancer cells use PD-L1, a ligand of a key protein called PD-1 that is found on natural killer cells, to evade the immune system. Also, learn the effect of an experimental agent on the regulation of PD-L1 expression. This information will be used to improve immune-based treatment for multiple myeloma, a presently incurable cancer of the blood.



Zeenath Ameen
Major: Biology
Mentor: Greg Lesinski, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: Dietary Soy in Prostate Cancer Patients: An Investigation of the Anti-Cancer Properties of Soy Isoflavones
Project Summary: Examine the effect of soy isoflavones on immune cell markers in prostate cancer patients. This information can contribute to preventing or treating prostate cancer and promote further studies in dietary anti-cancer intervention.




Parker Brumfield
Major: Biochemistry and Japanese
Mentor: Ramesh Ganju, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Pathology
Project: Chemokine Receptor CXCR4 as a Novel Target Against Small Cell Lung Cancer
Project Summary: Evaluate the role of chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand CXCL12 in inducing signaling mechanisms that regulate growth of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cells. In addition, I will determine the role of this pathway in inducing metastatic properties in these cells. Furthermore, I will determine the effect of CXCR4 inhibitor on growth and spread of SCLC in mouse model systems.




Lindsay Cannon
Major: Psychology
Mentor: Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, College of Medicine, Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research
Project: Cancer Treatment Type, Heart Rate Variability, and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors
Project Summary: Learn how different cancer treatments affect heart rate variability in breast cancer patients. In addition, establish a link between low heart rate variability and poor quality of life within breast cancer survivors. The purpose of this research is to increase the knowledge of risks associated with specific treatment types in order to decrease the rates of cancer recurrence and mortality, and to lead to the creation of more effective treatment types.




Meng Chun Chen
Major: Biology & Chinese
Mentor: Michael Frietas, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology
& Medical Genetics
Project: Novel Approach for Profiling Compartmentalization and Redistribution of Histone H1 Phosphorylation in Cancer Cells
Project Summary: Histones are the proteins that condense the enormous amount of DNA into the very small nucleus. We have developed a method to observe the location and changes to histones in blood cancer cells. This information will allow for better understanding of these important proteins in cancer cell replication.



Veda Chokshi
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Gustavo Leone, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology
& Medical Genetics
Project: The Role of E2F7 and E2F8 in Cell Cycle Control and Tumorigenesis
Project Summary: Investigating the functions of two proteins, E2F7 and E2F8, which normally work in the cell cycle, specifically to stop cells from dividing. Since tumors are overgrowths in the body, determining the roles of these proteins in cell division could provide a reason for the abnormal divisions of cancer cells, and furthermore these genes could serve as a potential target for therapy.



Shauna Collins
Major: Biomedical Science
Mentor: Don Benson, MD, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: Targeting CS1 to enhance natural killer cell function against multiple myeloma: elucidation of mechanism of elotuzumab, a novel anti-CS1 antibody
Project Summary: Investigate the means by which the natural killer cells of the immune system are able to fight and kill the tumor cells of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. Determining how these cells signal to kill and how the drug elotuzumab enhances this effect will provide useful information for clinical trials.


Nicholas Denton
Major: Biomedical Science
Mentor: Balveen Kaur, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery
Project: Investigation of acid sphingomyelinase contribution to glioblastoma multiform biology and response to radiation and chemotherapy
Project Summary: Investigate how an enzyme called SMPD1 weakens tumors to chemo and radiation therapies. This study could lead to a new gene therapy that will improve the current chemo and radiation combination therapy.


Ryan Dixon
Major: Chemistry
Mentor: Helen Chamberlin, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics
Project: Visualizing the dynamic localization and behavior of the Ras/MAPK pathway in germline apoptosis of C.elegans
Project Summary: Visualize how MAP kinase, an important protein involved in the regulation of processes such as cell proliferation and death, behaves within the germline of the C. elegans nematode. This would provide new information on the nature and targets of the protein helping to better understanding its influence on cancer development



Michael Dworkin
Major: Mathematics
Mentor: Jayajit Das & Ciriyam Jayaprakash, College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics
Project: Extracting Mechanistic Insight From Large Biochemical Networks Via Statistical Analysis
Project Summary: Study statistical methods using pair correlations (how strongly two variables are related) to analyze computational models of biochemical networks associated with tumor growth. We demonstrate that such methods dramatically reduce (e.g., five from hundreds) the number of independent variables needed to describe data from a variety of large biological networks. Such effective variables can help us understand the mechanisms leading to tumor growth.



Benjamin Kaumeyer
Major: Biochemistry
Mentor: Helen Chamberlin, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics
Project: Identification of cell specific target genes for a Pax transcription factor in C elegans
Project Summary: Pax genes are associated with a number of cancers, but the exact mechanism of Pax’s involvement with cancer is unknown. This study will explore how the Pax gene family alters the activity of other genes inside a cell which could lead to a better understanding of the role that Pax genes play in cancer.



Danielle Kelly
Major: Engineering Physics
Mentor: Rick Freeman, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Physics
Project: Identification of cell specific target genes for a Pax transcription factor in C elegans
Project Summary: Research the properties of protons as they are accelerated from a target that is hit by a high intensity laser. This may provide an alternative proton source that can be used to treat inoperable tumors and cancers.



Christine Knopp
Major: Exercise Science
Mentor: Carmen Swain, PhD, College of Education and Human Ecology, Department of Physical Activity and Educational Services
Project: One Goal: To Prevent Cancer Incidences in Women through the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles
Project Summary: Aim to prevent cancer by improving the physical wellness of women who are predisposed to breast, uterine, and colon cancer. Participants will receive a body composition assessment, a comprehensive physical fitness test, and a personalized consultation reviewing test results and the importance of physical activity in reducing cancer risk. Participants will complete a questionnaire to determine if technological and personalized feedback improves one’s intent to be physically active.



George Koutras
Major: Biology
Mentor: Susan Mallery, DDS, PhD, College of Dentistry, Department of Oral Surgery, Pathology and Anesthesiology
Project: Evaluation of fenretinide and its metabolites for oral squamous cell carcinoma chemoprevention
Project Summary: Evaluate the effects of fenretinide and its metabolites at different doses on chemoprevention-relevant parameters. By understanding the specific therapeutic relevant doses, we can create goals for future clinical trials involving fenretinide.



Jonathan Lee
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Maki Asano, MD, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics
Project: A Genome-wide Screening of Drosophila melanogaster to Identify Endoreduplication-specific Factors
Project Summary: Identify endoreduplication-specific factors involved in the switch from the mitotic cycle to the endocycle as well as what is involved in general regulation. This provide insight into the development of endocycle-targeting drugs which may be used to combat cancer.



Melissa Mauntel
Major: Molecular Genetics & International Studies
Mentor:Gustavo Leone, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology
Project: AKT-1 Independent Functions of Tumor Suppressor PTEN
Project Summary: Learn how PTEN mutants, a gene that normally prevents tumor development and can be mutated in cancer cells, affect cells outside of PTEN’s main target molecule AKT-1. This will provide insight for how effective blocking AKT-1 could be for cancer treatments.




Joseph M. Meyers Jr.
Major: Human Nutrition Science
Mentor: Ouliana Ziouzenkova, PhD, College of Education and Human Ecology, Department of Human Nutrition
Project: Effect of Vitamin A Metabolites on the Transcriptional Regulation of Immunoglobulin Synthesis in B Cells
Project Summary: Evaluate the effects that the different forms of vitamin A have on the production of specific proteins called antibodies in the immune system. This may provide insight into how to manipulate these effects to provide therapies for immune disorders and certain blood cancers such as multiple myeloma.




Jeffrey Miller
Major: Biology
Mentor: Kamal Pohar, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Urology
Project: Exploring Novel Functions of E2F3 in Bladder Cancer
Project Summary: Explore the functions of the E2F3 protein in cell proliferation and its influence in malignant bladder tumors. This may provide insight into how specific human bladder tumors grow in malignancy and offer therapeutic strategies to prevent this growth.





Sean Moore
Major: Finance
Mentor: Subha Raman, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: Novel Markers of Anthracycline-Induced Myocardial Damage
Project Summary: Some types of chemotherapy drugs are associated with cardiomyopathy, a debilitating heart condition. We are attempting to find patterns that will help predict which patients undergoing chemotherapy might be at greater risk for developing cardiomyopathy.




Ryan Orlosky
Major: Biology
Mentor: Kamal Pohar, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Urology
Project: Study of the H-Ras-Rb Axis in Oncogene Induced Senescence
Project Summary: Measure the presence of markers that cause the arrest of the cell cycle in both human tumors and mice. With this information, we will create a genetically modified mouse that accurately mimics aggressive human bladder cancer, providing a model for anti-cancer treatment.




Carlee Schaefer
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Debbie Parris, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology
& Medical Genetics
Project: Use and Optimization of TAP-tagged Herpesvirus Protein to Identify Novel Host Protein Interactions
Project Summary: Determine and optimize methods to isolate and identify cellular proteins that interact with a key protein of a model herpes virus known to be important for the ability of virus to replicate and cause disease in humans. Since several herpes viruses are known to be associated with cancer, this work may offer new insights into how this important group of viruses corrupts cellular regulatory processes and leads to an increase in cancer risk. This information could also lead to the identification of novel treatments to prevent these viruses from disrupting cells.




Nandini Sharma
Major: Molecular Genetics
Mentor: Michael Ostrowski, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Project: The Role of PKCβ in Breast Cancer Progression
Project Summary: Evaluate how the gene PKCβ decreases tumor formation and if it interacts with the local tumor microenvironment or directly with the tumors. This could lead to the development of more effective therapies for treatment of various cancer types, including breast cancer.





Ron Siebenaler
2012 Goldwater Scholar

Major: Biomedical Science
Mentor: Michael Caligiuri, MD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: Personalized Medicine in Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Targeting AML with Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors and Epigenetic Modifiers
Project Summary: Test novel therapies targeting the effects of two mutations, MLLPTD and FLT3ITD, found in patients with a blood cell cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Not only will the changes that occur inside the AML cells during and after treatment increase our understanding of AML biology but also we hope these new drugs will increase survival or provide a cure for patients diagnosed with AML.



Breonna Slocum
Major: Microbiology & Spanish
Mentor: Helen Chamberlin, PhD, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Molecular Genetics
Project: Establishing the Link between Pax Transcription Factors and Acyl-CoA Synthetase in Cancer Biology
Project Summary: Evaluate the function of a gene important in the metabolic pathways of cells and establish the relationship between it and genes important in cell proliferation and renewal, and their impact on cell survival. This may strengthen our understanding of the metabolism of cancer cells, and how important biosynthetic genes are regulated.




Alexander Smith
Major: Computer Science and Engineering
Mentor: Metin Gurcan, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Informatics
Project: Development of a consensus-establishing software tool for skin cancer research
Project Summary: Develop a teaching tool to help medical students better estimate the percent body surface area covered by a skin disease.




Erica Toivonen
Major: Exercise Science
Mentor: Carmen Swain, PhD, College of Education and Human Ecology, Department of Physical Activity and Educational Services
Project: Reduce the Risk: Promoting Healthy Lifestyles in Males with an Increased Risk of Cancer
Project Summary: My research will focus on the importance of physical activity in preventing cancer in males with a family history of this disease. Participants in my study will receive a body composition assessment, comprehensive fitness testing, and counseling regarding the importance of physical activity in the prevention of cancer. Participants will complete questionnaires to determine if this type of personalized information influences their intent to be physically active.




Daniel Yanes
Major: Biology
Mentor: Michael Caligiuri, MD, PhD, College of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine
Project: Analysis of the Role of MLL-PTD in Hematopoesis Using a Mouse Model
Project Summary: Examine how a mutation in the MLL gene affects adult blood cell development and how this defect plays a role in subsequent generation of leukemia. The results of this experiment will used to enhance treatments for acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood.




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