Internship Q + A: Gretchen Long, Harvard Stem Cell Institute

Name: Gretchen Long
Expected Graduation: May 2020
Program of Study: Nanoscale Science with a Nanobioscience focus
Internship Organization: Harvard Stem Cell Institute
Organization’s area of work: The Harvard Stem Cell Institute works to advance stem cell biology and translational medicine across Harvard and its 8 affiliated hospitals

What did you focus on during your internship program?
My main focus was to further understand the role of BRG1, a frequently mutated gene in lung adenocarcinoma, in DNA repair/the ATR pathway. To do this, I treated four cell lines derived from human lung adenocarcinoma patients with ATR inhibitors and tested for their viability. I additionally assessed the role of BRG1 as a tumor suppressor by determining the tumor number and tumor burden in KRAS/p53 mouse models differing in the presence and absence of BRG1.

What is the real-world application of what you worked on?
To see if ATR inhibitors can be used as a therapeutic to treat BRG1 deficiency in lung adenocarcinoma patients, and further understand the role of this frequently mutated gene.

How did your coursework or other experiences at SUNY Poly prepare you for your internship?
Dr. Yubing Xie and SUNY Poly graduate student Isabel Tian have been outstanding mentors and provided me with a lot of prior research experience that prepared me to think like a scientist.

Additionally, the biochemistry course taught by Dr. J. Andres Melendez prepared me for reading papers involving complex mechanistic pathways. His course also increased my interest in biochemistry.

How do you think this internship will help you reach your goals?
After graduating from SUNY Poly, I plan to pursue an MD-PhD program. This internship has allowed me to think more independently on a research project that may have direct clinical applications. The internship also taught me how to clearly present and explain my research, through weekly one-on-one meetings with the PI and a final presentation.

What was most beneficial part of your internship?
My internship had a seminar every Friday that allowed me to hear from different Harvard faculty about the different applications of stem cells in research.

How did SUNY Poly help you secure your internship?
SUNY Poly professors Dr. Yubing Xie and Dr. Kathleen Dunn, and SUNY Poly graduate student Isabel Tian helped me to secure this opportunity.