Investigating combination treatments in miapaca, a pancreatic cell line
Investigating combination treatments in miapaca, a pancreatic cell line

The project involves combination therapy using two different drugs on a specific cell signaling pathway within a cancer cell in order to inhibit or kill off the cancer cell.

Student researcher: Nisan Hubbard (B.S. ’12/H&S)

Faculty mentor: Paul Dent, Ph.D., professor and vice chair of research, VCU Department of Neurosurgery

Hubbard: I started a summer research program here at VCU, the STEP-UP program. Dr. Dent was assigned as my mentor. Thank goodness I impressed him.

I work mostly with cell viability assays, which are basically tests to see how well the cell survives within this drug. I also do Western blots which are basically protein settings. I love it.

Working in the lab has helped me with time management and the art of anticipation. Dr. Dent likes deadlines to be met so you have to be able to set up an experiment within a week, visualize it and try to get it done within that week or two weeks. Granted, things don’t always go the same way because sometimes the cells are stubborn.

When it comes to VCU, the research is there. Look for the pipeline programs that we have available here at VCU. A couple of people and I started a group, Student Research Organization. Our mission is to increase awareness for undergraduate research. It’s just a matter of taking the initiative and going to find it.

Dent: Nisan got up to speed doing stuff pretty quickly. He has actually performed experiments. You want to repeat an experiment three times, so he will be doing one of the experiments next to the postdoc to help speed things up. He has been able to help out on several projects doing bits and pieces, helping individuals get their data together.

Nisan reminds me of myself. I worked as an undergraduate in a lab – I learned the ropes and how to work and how to interact with people in a lab. And I think that’s going to be a really great thing for Nisan. He’s been in the lab. He’s done experiments in the lab and worked with people who are more experienced. So that experience is going to rub off on him.