KPBS SU2C Emperor Science Award winner shares her experience working at cc-TDI

emma rens STEM

Hello! My name is Emma Rens, and I am a junior at the Academy of Our Lady of Peace High School in San Diego, California. Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about the remarkable opportunity I was given through the KPBS Stand Up to Cancer Emperor Science Award to work with the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute (cc-TDI) lab. Now that the program has finished, I am very excited to share my experience and research.

When I first toured the lab in June, my mentor, Dr. Keller, shared with me the shocking statistic that “1 in 5 kids will not survive cancer” (cc-TDI). This is because many forms of childhood cancer have “seen little to no advancement in treatment option for forty or more years” (cc-TDI). Since 1978, only six pediatric oncology drugs have been approved by the FDA. Using the cc-TDI mission of making “childhood cancer universally survivable, regardless of diagnosis” (cc-TDI), my project was to characterize and public the resources available to study one common childhood cancer, osteosarcoma. I spent all summer using the medical database PubMed to create a list of biomarkers mutated from biopsies of osteosarcoma as well as a list of cell lines to help researchers develop drugs to make osteosarcoma consistently survivable.

Ultimately, with Dr. Keller’s assistance, I was able to identify 33 common biomarkers and 34 cell lines of osteosarcoma. This data will be included in a manuscript with other osteosarcoma research completed by the cc-TDI. The manuscript will focus on similarities and differences between different cell lines based on their mutations to help with further osteosarcoma drug trials.

I am beyond grateful for the invaluable opportunity of working with the cc-TDI lab under Dr. Keller. His mentorship has made me extremely excited to enter the STEM field and work on other research projects!

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