Paul Hart ’20 is one of 200 Hamilton students conducting research or completing an internship supported by the College this summer. Here he explains his research with Associate Professor of Chemistry Max Majireck.
What is your research?
Essentially what I’m doing with Max Majireck is we’re working to synthesize a compound called BRD9876 ... BRD is essentially a selective motor protein inhibitor, and that means it targets multiple myeloma cells as a form of blood cancer. It targets these cells selectively, so it doesn’t target your normal blood cells.
We’re trying to first synthesize this compound, and then we’re going to try to synthesize analogs, where you take the same compound and you try to change one thing about it. We’re going to try to make a bunch of these analogs and send them off to institutions for biological testing.
Hometown: Somerville, Mass.
High School: Somerville High School
What is the ultimate goal of the project?
What we want to mostly do is make all these analogs and see how well they can combat multiple myeloma, and we’ll just do that by sending them off and getting our results back from different screenings from all these institutions that focus on more of the biomedical side. . . And we want to see how effectively they can target just multiple myeloma cells as well as how they can be up-taken by the body.
How did you get involved with the project?
I went to Max one day and asked him if I could volunteer in his lab over the summer, and he really stuck his neck out for me, and not only did he take me on, he emailed all the different departments and asked if there was money laying around, and so now he’s paying me in full. It kind of just goes to show that if you put your foot in the door and show that you’re willing, it can really help out. But also just knowing that professors here are ready to help you out.
What are your day to day responsibilities?
I come in and I’ll talk with Max briefly, and he’ll give me a procedure that I need to follow.
He’ll give me an outline, I’ll perform the procedure that he tells me to do, and there’s this way of characterizing products with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, so at the end of the run I’ll NMR and then I’ll show it to him. (spectroscopy is splitting light/radiation to learn about the relationship between electromagnetic radiation and matter)
What are your future plans?
I definitely know I want to work in the biochemistry field. I’m stuck between medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and just plain pharmacy.
I’m also applying for a fellowship – the Fulbright where I’m going to try to go abroad for a year ... But at the end of the day, I’m also going to go to grad school, most likely, so I’m going to see what positions I can get right out of school ... If it turns out that research isn’t really for me, then I’ll probably just go to graduate school for pharmacology and then just work at Biogen, a biopharmaceutical company, or Vertex, like big pharma companies.
What is your favorite element?
Carbon. It’s the most basic organic molecule. I work with it a lot in organic chemistry. But also probably helium, because interestingly, we’re running out of helium in the world and it’s just a very useful compound. . . . Actually really expensive, too. So I feel like my favorite element is carbon, but the element I’m most interested in is helium.