Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Through their lens: Steven Wang learns about stem cells at the heart of cancer

This summer we're sponsoring high school interns in stem cell labs throughout California. We asked those students to contribute to our Instagram photos and YouTube videos about life in the lab, and write about their experiences.

Steven Wang attends Harker School in San Jose, California. This summer he has interned in the lab of Dr. Peter Lee at City of Hope Medical Center. As an extracurricular, he enjoys playing basketball and baseball.

Steven Wang working in the lab. He submitted this photo to our #CIRMStemCellLab Instagram feed.
When I first applied to this internship, my mind was narrowly focused on cancer and therapies used to treat this disease. I was thrilled at the possibility of working at a comprehensive cancer center over the summer and began to look into labs that had anything to do with cancer research. However, my perspective started to change after conversing and discussing research articles with my principal investigator. He offered a new viewpoint by exposing me to a new theory that combines two almost unrelated elements: cancer research and stem cells. The proposed cancer stem cell hypothesis opened me up to a new view of this topic that explained previously unknown mysteries such as the robust resistance of cancer cells.

Now that I have been exposed to stem cells both theoretically and in the lab, I have come to realize that stem cells can be applied literally anywhere. For example, Karen Aboody, a researcher at City of Hope, is evaluating the efficacy of utilizing neural stem cells for a drug delivery device to eliminate glioma. On the other hand, researchers at the National Institute of Health are investigating the potential use of stem cells to aid transplantations of organs. In my own research, I discovered that stem cell associated genes play an integral role in the development of tumors and utilizing therapies to target these markers may have potential therapeutic impact. I am truly fascinated with stem cells after getting hands-on experience with them and recognizing the applications of these cells in medical sciences.

Steven Wang

Steven submitted this video of his experience:

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