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Nina Silver ’21: Research grant allows for study of pancreatic cancer cells

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Posted on Friday, January 17, 2020

With the help of a Drinko Center Research Grant, junior biology major Nina Silver has been able to delve into molecular biology and conduct research on the effects of specific chemotherapy on pancreatic cancer cells.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Karen Resendes, associate professor of biology, Silver is examining the effects of the chemotherapy drugs 5-fluorouracil and gemcitabine on pancreatic cancer cells (cell line PANC1) by themselves and when combined. Silver said she is hoping to find that the combination of the two drugs is more effective in inducing apoptosis — cell death — in the cancer cells than either drug alone.

“We are hoping to find that the two drugs work together in such a way that the combination treatment would kill pancreatic cells that have become resistant to gemcitabine, which is a common chemotherapy drug used to treat pancreatic cancer, despite pancreatic cancer often being able to become resistant to it,” she said.

The research project also taught her that effective time management can lead to more productive lab time.

“Dr. Resendes has been invaluable during my research,” said Silver. “She taught me all of the procedures I need to know to do the research and has weekly meetings with me to discuss what needs to be done next and what our goals are. She keeps me on track and is always available when I need her help.”