2018 WVU Cancer Institute Summer Undergraduate Research Interns
(left to right)
Nolan Holey, Robert Hickey, Terezia Galikova, Nico Muttillo, Yongija “James” Deng
Five undergraduate students recently presented their cancer research to their peers and mentors during a symposium at the WVU Learning Center IPE Classrooms.
The highly competitive Summer Research Fellowship Program at the Cancer Institute provides funding and opportunities for undergraduate students who want to pursue careers in cancer research or medicine. Students receive a $4,000 stipend and are paired with a WVU cancer scientist for a 10-week research project.
Nolan Holey studied childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, leukemic cells become resistant to chemotherapy due to adaptive activation of proteins necessary for survival. His project involves identification and inhibition of this critical activated proteins in leukemic cells with the goal to make them susceptible to chemotherapy. His mentor was Laura Gibson, PhD, she is the Senior Associate Vice President for Research & Graduate Education; Associate Dean for Research, WVU School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Cell Biology. Nolan is the son of Richard and Nisha Holley of Ripley, WV. He is a junior at WVU and is majoring in biochemistry.
Robert Hickey investigated the metastatic effect of the liprin-a1 protein in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. His mentor was Scott Weed, PhD, in the WVU Department of Biochemistry. Robert is the son of Jim and Patty Hickey of Centerville, Ohio. He is a junior at WVU and is majoring in biochemistry.
Terezia Galikova studied the expression of a gene called AIMP2 and its splicing variant, AIMP2-DX2, which are associated with poor clinical outcomes of cervical cancer and discovered a circular RNA which forms through the splicing event. Her mentor was Ivan Martinez, PhD, in the WVU School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Cell Biology. Terezia is the daughter of Ida Holaskova and Peter Galik of Morgantown. She is a Junior at WVU and is majoring in Immunology and Medical Microbiology.
Nico Muttillo studied how fat tissue stem cells may influence breast tumor growth and the proteins expressed in two cancer cells lines using a three-dimensional collagen matrix. This project let Nico see some protein expression changes in a breast cancer cell line after exposing it to stem cell-remodeled matrices. His mentor was Linda Vona-Davis, PhD, in the WVU School of Medicine, Department of Surgery He is the son of Dina and Dominic Muttillo of Morgantown. He is a senior at WVU majoring in Biology.
Yongija “James” Deng studied Patient-derived xenografts are a new model for understanding the development of cancer and are formed by grafting cancerous tissue from a patient into a mouse. My research involves the analysis of data generated from these models so we can further refine them in the future. His mentor was Elena Pugacheva, PhD, in the WVU School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry James is the son of Wentao Deng and Hongmei Cui of Morgantown. He is a junior at Vanderbilt University and is majoring in biochemistry.
Financial support for the fellowship program comes from the Edwin C. Spurlock Fellowship Fund, the Edward L. Reed Cancer Research Endowment, the Dr. David B. McClung Cancer Research Endowment Fund, and the Joe Marconi Cancer Research Fellowship Endowment.