Changchang Liu ’15, works with biology professor Engda Hagos on cancer research during her summer internship. (Photo by Andy Daddio)
Two Colgate students and their professor have been published in The Journal of Molecular Carcinogenesis for new research into the regulatory processes that maintains genomic stability, which is impaired in cancer cells. This could one day lead to new treatments.
Changchang Liu ’15, Stephen La Rosa ‘13 and Assistant Professor of Biology Engda Hagos received a grant from the Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute at Colgate. Liu is the first author on the published paper, which Hagos says is huge for a student.
“In this field, it takes at least two or three, sometimes four, years to publish one paper. It’s not easy,” Hagos said.
For her published research, Liu was also one of 10 students nationwide to be awarded a Meritorious Honor at the ninth annual Undergraduate Students Caucus and Poster Competition of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Liu cited making new findings as the most exciting part of her research. “Doing the research and making this discovery is kind of like discovering a secret, like a treasure, that only you know, literally, because you just discovered it.”
In addition to Liu’s earlier research, she is now on campus for her third summer in a row working with Hagos. Under the mentorship of Hagos, Liu and two other students, Margaret Wolsey ’17 and Matt Szuchnicki ’15, are studying autophagy, a process by which a cell eats itself so that it can recycle its nutrients. This process has been implicated in many human diseases including cancer.
“He’s very patient and he really cares how you feel about your project,” Liu said about Hagos. “He makes sure you understand what you’re doing and the concepts behind what you are studying, which really helps me grow as a researcher. The close interaction is what made many of the ideas and the entire project possible.”
Liu will go straight from her research in the lab at Colgate to the world-renowned campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. As part of the Colgate NIH Study Group, Liu will take classes and study cancer cell multi-drug resistance in an NIH laboratory.
Hagos remarked, “She’s doing something important. She is one step ahead.”