Phase 10

Elana, Donna, Shinhyuk, Daria, Ian and Tiara Lewis from the LSAMP REU.

 

Elana, Ian, Donna, Tiara, Shinhyuk, and Daria.

I have never seen, heard, or played this amazing game called Phase 10. It is a card game that you play to achieve ten phases first before anyone else in the game. The most stressful rule in this game is that you cannot skip a phase until you complete the phase you are in. For me, I was stuck on phase six for five rounds. It was mentally and physically draining because it was 3 AM, and I could not finish the game.

Like Phase 10, I believe BME CUReS has ten phases for us to complete in order to grow as cancer fighters. The first phase must be to break the awkwardness. Many nights of playing games, talking about politics, and sharing personal anecdotes, I believe we have gotten much closer and breaking down the awkwardness. But the most effective way to break down the awkwardness was going out to Austin and exploring what this vibrant city has to offer.

We went to see the bats fly off the bridge near South Congress. Well, we tried. We went to the Museum of the Weirds on the Sixth Street, but I think it was a bad timing because there were just so many bikers that day. We went out to eat In N Out burgers, and we were not disappointed by its taste and its price. As a person who is from NY, I never had In N Out, so I think this is my favorite memory I have so far from being part of this program.

There are so many more phases for us to complete, and even though we might be stuck on the same phase for weeks, it is good that I won’t be the only one stuck.

Shinhyuk Bang, Syracuse University

All 2017 BME Summer Scholars.

Posted in 2017, fun, ut austin

Welcome 2017 Summer Scholars!

In front of the UT Austin Seal on the Darrel K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. Left to Right: Hieu Nguyen (mentor), Hunter Joyce (mentor), Dalton Kotilinek, Shinhyuk Bang, Ian Davis, Darla Bentley, Elana Helou, Donna Murillo, Jillian Ortner, Gabriela Perez-Lozano, Krista Nicklaus (mentor), Octavio Cordova Jr, Gabriel Garcia, Guillermo Beckmann, Andrew Rios, Yahir Garay. Photo by Will Goth (mentor).

 

Posted in 2017

BMES 2016 Presentations

Every year, the summer scholars present their work at the annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). This year’s scholars each presented a poster at BMES in Minneapolis, Minnesota in October. Here are each of the scholars with their posters:

Grant Ashby, Georgia Tech

Grant Ashby, Georgia Tech

 

Dylan Beam, The Ohio State University

Dylan Beam, The Ohio State University

 

Nyrobi Celestine, Milwaukee School of Mines

Nyrobi Celestine, Milwaukee School of Mines

 

Daniel Chavarria, University of Texas at El Paso

Daniel Chavarria (right), University of Texas at El Paso

 

Alston Feggins, Florida Institute of Technology

Alston Feggins, Florida Institute of Technology

 

Rachel Hegab, Louisiana Tech University

Rachel Hegab, Louisiana Tech University

 

Adiel Hernandez, University of Miami

Adiel Hernandez, University of Miami

 

Hannah Horng, University of Maryland-College Park

Hannah Horng, University of Maryland-College Park

 

Sydney Hutton, Stanford University

Sydney Hutton, Stanford University

 

Emilio Loera, University of Texas at El Paso

Emilio Loera, University of Texas at El Paso

 

Jose Perez, University of Texas at El Paso

Jose Perez, University of Texas at El Paso

Posted in 2016, research

Fun Times in Austin

Collage by Rachel Hegab

Collage by Rachel Hegab

 

-Rachel Hegab, Louisiana Tech Univ.

Posted in 2016, austin, fun

What Starts Here Changes The World

Dell Medical School visit with Texas 4000 riders (photo by Margo Cousins)

Dell Medical School visit with Texas 4000 riders (photo by Margo Cousins)

This summer we were fortunate to be able visit the Dell Medical School, which opened this year and is welcoming their first 50 students. However, there are still a few buildings under construction, and other administrative things that are yet to be completed. Nonetheless, judging from my experience touring the school alongside the Texas 4000 riders, the Medical School is poised to do great things and accomplish their lofty goals, one of which is transforming the way academic medicine is done. It is a breath of fresh air to hear about people trying to change the way things are done for the better, and have the aspirations of making not only communities better, but ultimately the world a better place. What stood out the most from this visit was that the people who are working tirelessly to get this Medical School up and running understand that the only way to accomplish their goals is with the help of their community, and through their collaboration. A big component of their plan to achieve some of their goals is having platforms through which they can get feedback from the community on ways certain things can be done better. With this information they plan to investigate the efficacy of these suggestions and hopefully publish and implement them if they are proven to be more efficient. With the hope that others will follow their lead. Being a researcher it is music to my ears hearing that some sort of data will be collected to prove what works and what doesn’t.

This summer I read something that resonated with me and proves useful in this context: “In god we trust, all others must have data.”

This was said by the surgeon Bernard Fisher who was instrumental in proving that the radical mastectomy was not the most efficient way of treating breast cancer. Without a doubt the visit to the medical school was an eye opening experience as was this entire summer at The University of Texas at Austin.

-Adiel Hernandez, Univ. of Miami

Posted in 2016, cancer, research, texas4000, ut austin

Ethics in Research

Growing up as a kid, science class was taught based on the facts that we have gained throughout historical records. Did Sir Isaac Newton record study after study and write the about his laws of motion to describe the effects of gravity and momentum? Yes, that is a fact. Did Galileo Galilei become the first person to openly challenge the Catholic Church and state that the sun is truly the center of our solar system not the Earth? Yes, that is a fact. These were revolutionary ideas in their respective eras and the only way that people were able to determine these ideas as fact was through numerous replications of their experiments by different people all across the globe.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Source: famousscientists.org

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). Source: famousscientists.org

Every scientist wants their research to go down in the history books and to set the standards for their respective fields like what Newton and Galileo did for their fields. This burning passion though skews some lines about the number of times experiments should be replicated before being published. Some people pump out data too quickly so not all of the possible issues have been troubleshot yet, so other scientists might doubt the validity of the results. This means that science actually takes a really, really long time before anything can even be presented to the scientific community.

Some researchers are willing to even go to extraordinary measures like faking their lab results just so they can be published have five minutes of fame and glory. The only problem is that in science they have systems to catch these frauds. People have designated jobs to repeat people’s scientific experiments in order to prove their validity. It’s fairly easy to catch them too because after a few people talk and agree that the results are not replicable the publication is tainted. This is the worst thing that can happen to scientist; once your reputation is tainted it’s nearly impossible to ever recover. Not only is your reputation important, but also whoever your scientific mentor is really impacts how much faith people put into your findings.

Isaac Newton's academic family tree. Source: irishtimes.ocm

Isaac Newton’s academic family tree. Source: irishtimes.ocm

The REU program had a really extensive discussion one of the first weeks over the importance of producing truthful, replicable results. The biggest example that was hammered home was the effects of one graduate student at a Japanese university that produced some truly revolutionary research. Nobody could reproduce this data. People investigated further and further and found that the images that this researcher had published were actually the combination of two totally different samples that were doctored together. There was outrage in the scientific community. The woman had her PhD revoked by her university and her entire lab’s careers were tarnished and they were scoffed at for being associated with the fraud. The woman and her co-author were both so ashamed by the backlash that they both committed suicide shorty after.

Not only does the number of times that tests have to be run hinder the scientific process, but the number of safety regulations that have been implemented recently has really slowed things down. Before, scientists would test on animals and even humans freely without too many restrictions, now for any similar testing any proposed experiments have to be reviewed by an entire board at the university. The whole process has turned science into a much safer endeavor for the patients involved as well as the environment. However, the drawbacks are slowing down the timeline for potential products and drugs that could protect the world and save thousands of lives. Think about how far you would go; how many rules would you bend to make your mark on science and save the world?

Source: Illinois Institute of Technology

Source: Illinois Institute of Technology

-Grant Ashby, Georgia Tech

Posted in 2016, reflections, research

Finding a Cure for Cancer Together

I cannot believe it is week 8. I have grown tremendously from nearly starting at the beginning of cell culturing.  I knew that researchers worked as a team, though they still had their individual projects. There are constant communication and collaboration efforts even in their individualized projects. The research community is constantly interacting with one another.

Photo source: Carabiner Communications

Photo source: Carabiner Communications

The question is, do different areas of science and engineering communicate together?

Cancer is a fight that is different for each person it affects, but the fight against cancer is a united front of various routes. The research paths lead to the same end in the fight against cancer, but the team effort is what keeps the fight alive and growing. Cancer is a fight that is different for each person, and individualized treatments are needed for each battle. There is more than one way to fight cancer. The cure itself is not just one method but several combined methods that take out cancer on all the possible fronts.

During this summer, I have been around different types of engineering from biomedical to mechanical to material science and biology. I have learned that collaboration is endless because everyone has different ideas and knowledge, and different viewpoints are necessary. I have learned so much not only about cancer and how the cancer cells interact with their microenvironment, but also how biomaterials can be used to mimic the cancer microenvironment.

– Alston-Lauren Feggins, Florida Institute of Technology

Posted in 2016, cancer, reflections, research

Letter to Texas 4000 Rider: Geena May

Photo of Lady Bird Lake in Austin by Dylan Beam

Photo of Lady Bird Lake in Austin by Dylan Beam

Dear Geena,

As I read your profile on the Texas 4000 page, I found you to be very relatable. I never lived outside of Oregon until I decided to go to Ohio State to study Biological Engineering, but it didn’t take me long to start bleeding Scarlet and Grey. My girlfriend likes to tease me about how I’m more of an Ohioan than she is despite the fact that I haven’t even lived there for a full year and she has lived there her whole life. I grew up loving the outdoors and I know how beautiful the Sierras are.

Seeing how much I could relate to you made it even harder to read about how cancer has affected your life. Your drive to ride in honor of your cousin and become an engineer to honor your high school teacher inspires me.

Cancer affects us all, and we need strong people like you to lead the fight.

Stay strong, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your ride.

Sincerely,

Dylan Beam, The Ohio State University

Geena May is a UT Austin sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering, and is currently riding to Alaska on the Texas 4000 Sierra 2016 team!

Posted in 2016, cancer, texas4000

Research Updates!

It is crazy to think we are on week 7 out of our 10 weeks here at the UT Austin BME department! Research is a notoriously slow process, but many of us REU students are finally starting to get some meaningful data. Across the board, all of us have vastly improved our skills and knowledge in the lab and are enjoying are heightened independence within our individual projects. Now faced with the daunting task of reporting our results in an abstract and poster, we are all beginning to consolidate our work and practice those scientific communication skills we have been working on! 🙂

The REU students report their research progress and accomplishments so far:

Alston: I have seeded fibroblast cells and invasive breast cancer 231s cells onto my electrospun aligned and nonaligned fibers. I’m doing data analysis on the fibroblast cells to see the rate they proliferated.

Adiel: I have been examining the effects that stiffening has on macrophages in order to better understand how macrophages behave within the tumor microenvironment. This is being done by placing macrophages into alginate gels of different degrees of stiffness, and examining their behavior.

Hannah:  I’ve been developing a new MATLAB algorithm to quantify inward movement and hopefully endocytosis. Right now we’re applying it to a cell line that’s drug resistant and treated with a certain kind of inhibitor, and we’re trying to test if the treated cells will show less inward movement in the trajectories we collect.

Dylan: I am developing a low-cost imaging system primarily using 3D printed parts. This system will utilize the Laser Speckle Contrast Imaging (LSCI) technique to track relative blood flow in the brain. This technique is used by physicians and researchers to observe how blood flow returns to damaged parts of the brain after the removal of tumors.

Rachel: I have been exploring how the changes in the stiffness of the microenvironment of breast cancer cells affects the cancer cells resistance to doxorubicin. So far this summer, I have seeded 3 experiments of the hydrogel based cell cultures in which I varied the dosages, acclimation times, and stiffness of the gels. Currently, I am performing Live/Dead assays to quantify the cancer cells response to doxorubucin.

Grant: I’ve been working on creating liposomal nanoparticles to create a better binding site between the two membranes that fuses them together. We achieve this fusion by mixing the lipids that make up the membrane with this one specific lipid called DOTAP which due to its charge is attracted to the cell membrane and causes the fusion. Over my experiments so far in the lab, our results have found that lipids composed of 8% DOTAP deliver the best out of any variety of concentrations. We were able to determine this by dying one of the lipids and then scanning the cells and seeing how many cells were determined to fluoresce.

Nyrobi: I am creating a tissue phantom to see how light can be manipulated in order to detect cancer noninvasively. I am using an imaging technique that is sensitive to scattering and absorption, and will allow us to accurately identify the boundaries of tumors. The first seven phantoms I made had bubbles that were too close to the phantom holes where the fluorescent dye will be. The last phantom made had very few, very small bubbles not close to the holes that would affect the results. Currently I’m making a new phantom with less scattering components in order to possibly see the fluorescent dye easier in the shorter phantom holes.

Daniel: I am working on how physical environment forces such as strain (stretch) affects the behavior of cancer cells. So far we have seen mix results, with some knockout and knockdown cancer cell lines exhibit more cell adhesion while others resemble more metastatic behavior.

Sydney: I compiled data about the interaction of PO4, cAMP and cGMP with different proteins then used that data to determine their most common interacting residues and atoms. I am using that data to isolate ligand residue interactions via Pymol then am running energy decomposition analysis to quantify the dominate forces in the interaction.

 

Compiled by Sydney Hutton, Stanford

Posted in 2016, cancer, research

Letter to Texas4000 Rider: Matthew Schneider

Dear Matthew,

Hey Matthew, my name is Dylan Beam and I just finished my first year studying Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University. I am in complete awe of what you guys are all accomplishing this summer. I am from Oregon, so I fly about 2500 miles pretty regularly to and from college and I couldn’t imagine riding a bike that far, much less the 4000 miles that you are all biking this summer.

Everyone’s life has been touched by cancer at one point or another–mine was touched when a close family friend was diagnosed with breast cancer–but I could not imagine what it is like to have one of my parents afflicted by this horrific ailment. It’s inspiring to me that you have taken on the journey to raise funds and awareness for cancer by participating in Texas 4000.

Dylan, 2016 Summer Scholar

Dylan, 2016 Summer Scholar

I have been interested in research because of the intellectual stimulation it provides, but through this connection to Texas 4000 I have gained better insight on the impact that research can have on individuals. I remember back to how when I was a kid and everyone wanted to be a hero. This program has helped me to understand that heroes come in all types.

You are a hero, just like every other member of Texas 4000 and everyone else dedicating their life to fighting cancer.

I’ve lived my whole life on the west coast between visiting my family in the San Francisco Bay Area and living in Oregon. It’s a beautiful area and I hope you enjoy your journey through the west.

Sincerely,

Dylan Beam, The Ohio State University

 

 

Matthew Schneider is a UT Austin student studying Computer Science and currently riding to Alaska on the Sierra team.

Posted in 2016, cancer, texas4000