Taking the Fight Against Cancer Personally
Driven by a personal history punctuated with cancer loss, Alice Long ’20 has committed herself to learning more about and contributing to the existing knowledge on the incurable disease. “My grandfather, grandmother and a close friend all passed away from esophageal cancer, which has had a lasting effect on the way I perceive life,” said Long.
Through her involvement with the Mystic Force Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children who suffer from cancer, Long has become more passionate about the science behind hopefully finding a cure. Therefore, when offered the prospect to work at National Tsinghua University, a renowned university in Taiwan, Long jumped at the opportunity. “I was excited not only to live in my native country of Taiwan, but also to experience the laboratory aspect of biology,” she said. Long's internship was made possible by the Jeffrey Fund Science Internship.
On a typical day, Long arrived at the laboratory in the morning, and was spoke with her supervisor on the tasks and objectives for the day. After reviewing her daily assignments, Long retired to the room adjacent to the lab where all the scientific instruments are kept. There, she performed her research.
Hometown: Miami, FL
High School: Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High School
Throughout the summer, Long conducted research and performed cell quantification, a procedure that involved counting cells, on magnetic nanoparticle hyperthermia in hepatoma cells (HepG2) as well as Jurkat cells using a microplate reader.
Magnetic hyperthermia is an experimental cancer treatment that implants magnetic nanoparticles inside a patient’s cancerous tumor. The patient is then placed in a hypothermia machine, an equipment using an magnetic field, which raises the temperature of the tumor, thus enhancing tumor oxygenation and radio- and chemosensitivity, hopefully causing it to shrink in size.
During her first week, Long examined which candidates could be attached to the nanoparticle, which will eventually undergo hyperthermia by magnetic induction. In subsequent weeks she cultured Jurkat cells, an immortalized line of T lymphocyte cells that are primarily used to study how susceptible various cancers are to drugs and radiation.
Through her research, Long has found that as the number of Jurkat cells increase, the solution they are present in becomes cloudier, meaning that there is a strong, positive correlation between cell numbers and absorbance in Jurkat cells.
This summer in Taiwan, Long has learned a variety of advanced techniques, and has also strengthened her teamwork, leadership and communication skills. “As an aspiring scientist and physician, I believe it is vital to obtain personal and laboratory skills and experience because it contributes to growth in patient-physician interaction and academia,” Long said.