From an early age, my family was touched by cancer, one of the most infamous diseases in the world and one of the leading causes of death in the world. I was first directly impacted by cancer when I was eight years old, and my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I witnessed the struggles he endured both physically and mentally from his prostate cancer, and the chemotherapy treatment he underwent. However, he was undeterred and due to the great care he received and his strong will; his cancer went into complete remission.
I continued to be fascinated by cancer and how our own bodies can seemingly create a disease out of itself. My interest in cancer, however, was further propelled when I was introduced to Dr. Sumanta Pal – an esteemed oncologist at the City of Hope Hospital in Duarte, California who specializes in genitourinary cancer, serves as the co-director of City of Hope’s Kidney Cancer Program, and has multiple patents. During the summer of my Freshman year, I was fortunate to intern under Dr. Pal, and analyzed the social dialogue of prostate cancer within Twitter. Since then I have continued my relationship with Dr. Pal and have continued to learn about cancer and the many different forms of treatment.
In my Junior year Dr. Pal and I devised a research project, which was approved by the science department. In phase one of my project I will be analyzing the effects that natural products such as mushroom extract, pomegranate extract, grape seed extract, and curcumin have on bladder cancer (note: this will be an in vitro study). I initially thought that this would be the only step necessary to begin my research, but soon discovered there were many more aspects behind conducting research. One major aspect was getting the needed funding; in order to do this I had to create a GoFundMe and raise money. I did not receive the necessary funding until the end of the school year.
After achieving the needed funding, I learned that Westtown had never been registered as an organization with ATCC or any other cell/bio resource company. To get Westtown accredited as an organization has been a long journey, and one that I am still working on. I have gotten signatures from science teachers, our principal, head of school, as well as the CFO of our school. I have also filed a 501(c)(3) form in order to be recognized as a non-profit organization. ATCC contacted me regarding the use of human derived cell and informed me that they are not able to send the needed cell line to me. I am currently doing research on alternatives to the RT-4 cell line, by looking for bladder cancer cell lines that are derived from animals rather than humans, but also hold similar characteristics to the RT-4 cell line.