Microscope

Virtual Research, Real Impact in Fight Against Cancer

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by Lauren McGuire, Student Public Relations Writer

Leah AndertonHer volunteer efforts with the Hormel Institute at the University of Minnesota has been virtual, but Cedarville University senior Leah Anderton is making a real impact as co-author of a scholarly paper on cutting-edge cancer research. 

Anderton, a molecular and cellular biology major, was slated to begin an internship this summer at the Hormel Institute, which is only about an hour from her home in Rochester, Minnesota. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the internship was cancelled, however, Anderton had the opportunity to volunteer remotely with a genomics researcher from the Institute and she will continue this role this fall.

Anderton has worked directly with Dr. Yanan Ren, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota, who is working under the guidance of Dr. Redong Yang, assistant professor for cancer genomics and winner of the Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award in 2015.

During the summer, Anderton created a list of long non-coding RNAs, also called IncRNAs,  nucleic acids present in all living cells including the human body. IncRNA are emerging as important targets to help treat numerous human cancers. She also contributed to a recently submitted manuscript as a co-author for an IncRNA project, which is currently under review and will likely be published in Bioinformatics, an Oxford Academic Journal.

“Identifying genes related to those IncRNAs will help to understand their molecular functions and mechanisms in human cancer studies,” Yang said.

This fall, Anderton will work on a new but related review of existing research on whether certain IncRNAs are tumor suppressors.

Although interning in a virtual format can be challenging, Anderton has found the Hormel team extremely helpful and the experience eye-opening.

“I had no idea that the research I would be doing would be the last step before going to a published paper,” Anderton said. “I’ve learned so much about IncRNAs and their potential as therapeutic targets in various cancers.” 

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.