Kate and Luke: A Joyful Duo

Siblings Kate and Luke are a joyful duo and a force to be reckoned with as they work alongside researchers as interns at cc-TDI this summer. Originally from the Chicago area, Kate is enrolled in a 7-year BA/BS-MD program at the University of South Carolina and Luke just completed his first year of college at St. Olaf College, majoring in nursing. 

Kate (left) and Luke (center) in the laboratory

Luke is a childhood cancer survivor and met Dr. Charles Keller at a conference where he learned about the difference cc-TDI is making in the childhood cancer research field. Luke’s journey with cancer has motivated both to pursue meaningful careers aimed at helping others. “Kids are very resilient and deserve more,” said Kate who took an interest in pediatric oncology following her brother’s experience. 

There is a “great need for progress and research for pediatric cancer,” states Luke. cc-TDI’s scientists do incredible work on Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) cancer research and the siblings were drawn to cc-TDI by how passionate they are about getting more young people in the field. The only way to make progress and further research is by exposing young people to real-world laboratory experiences and giving them opportunities to explore their field of interest.  

Kate and Luke, the joyful duo

This summer, Kate is working with Dr. Shefali Chauhan, MS, PhD. on the “Needle from the Haystack” project. They are conducting a repeat of an experiment that will help further understanding about the mechanisms of an existing cardiovascular drug that is being repurposed to stop RMS cells. Kate is primarily working on growing cell cultures for several RMS cell lines and is helping with a final step regarding a type of compound that has been identified. Because of her extensive work with cell cultures, Kate is also able to help Dr. Erin Helms, PhD. with her project regarding SMARCA4, a gene that holds the information on how to build the BRG1 protein in RMS. 

Kate inspecting cell culture in the laboratory

Mentored by Andy Woods, BS, Luke is working on an RMS progression conditional probability project. The purposes of their project are to better understand the catalytic forces of RMS progression and the possible ways of silencing, knocking down, or shutting down those forces.

Luke and Kate exploring all that Oregon has to offer

In the fall, Kate will be going to medical school at the University of South Carolina and is planning for a pediatric residency and oncology fellowship. Luke will be continuing his nursing education at St. Olaf College. He is considering going into pediatric oncology because he experienced the incredible impact that his nurses had on him and is determined to provide the same care for his patients. We wish both success in everything that they accomplish in the future! 

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