Ever since he was a child, Henry Kang ’17 knew that he wanted to go into the medical field. This summer he got his first significant research experience through an internship with the Biomedical and Physical Sciences department at Michigan State University. With financial support from the Class of 1964 Internship Support Fund, Kang joined a team of researchers analyzing cells in the human immune system that can help to fight cancer.
In the lab at Michigan State Kang worked to research Natural Killer (NK) cells. NK cells play an essential role in the body’s immune system by responding to cells that have been infected by viruses and to the formation of tumors. This makes them very important in resisting cancer. Kang’s lab discovered that approximately 30% of the human population has a special kind of NK cells, which they call gNK cells. These gNK cells can fight tumors better than normal NK cells can. The lab’s goal over the summer was to research how to activate gNK cells in all humans.
For Kang, this internship was the perfect opportunity to gain research experience. He commented, “The most rewarding part of my internship experience was being able to get a hands-on opportunity in the research field.” He quickly developed research skills in order to support his work in the lab. He found that a high-level understanding of the immune system was necessary to conducting lab research. This meant reading PhD-level materials. While Kang found this research highly challenging, it was also rewarding; he developed advanced knowledge of the immune system and its functions.
Kang’s research experience this summer has inspired him for the future. He stated, “The internship has definitely solidified my passion to continue my studies in the science field.” While his dream since childhood is to become a doctor, Kang's internship has opened him up to the idea of advanced research. He may consider completing a Ph.D. and pursuing medical research much like what he worked on this summer.