Research Biographies

Before medical school, I researched DNA repair pathways in breast and ovarian cancers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for three years. I knew I wanted to spend my last summer back in that environment. Returning last summer meant that I had another nine weeks working in a basic science laboratory with rich translational applications. For the summer, I had my own project to focus on that branched off of my prior work. Specifically, I focused on correlating the relative susceptibilities of breast and ovarian cancers to a specific chemotherapy to their capacities for DNA repair in a pathway that generally repairs the chemotherapy of interest. My workdays revolved around cell culture (growing 60+ cell lines!), cytotoxicity assays, and a modified version of immunofluorescence.

I've previously worked in this laboratory, so I was already familiar with all the techniques I would use and already had solid relationships with my advisors. Going back to DFCI was like stepping into a comfortable pair of shoes I hadn't worn for nine months. I decided I would dedicate my time in Boston to running experiments and juggle data analysis along with classes in the fall. Setting a goal, narrowing my focus, and spending much time in the laboratory was crucial to generating publishable basic science data in only nine weeks.

Returning to research after beginning medical school helped me refine my future research goals. I had different conversations with one of my PIs, a surgical oncologist. I noticed more intersections between basic and translational research and the medical sciences. Continuing my old research experience was still exciting and had new twists since I had a different perspective.

Anne Calkins
Basic Science and Translational

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