"I applied to the Scholars program to be able to go deeper into the research I have been doing since Sophomore year and be able to expand my knowledge. I wish to learn more about immunotherapy and liver cancer with hopes to at least make a dent towards a cure for liver cancer with my research project."
I am a pre-medical student and my futures goals include attending medical school. With my research, I hope to be able to achieve my project goals and take a step towards finding an efficient and cell-specific promoter for the AAV vector.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Florida Bright Futures
- SMART Scholarship
- UF Professional Service Organization
- International Medical Outreach
Previously, I have worked at Shands as a volunteer in Pediatrics. I have also volunteered at Kiddie College, an educational day care for children from 2 to 5 years of age. This semester, I will be volunteer for Baby Gators, as well as the Alachua county health clinic. Baby Gators is an educational environment for children before they start school.
Hobbies and Interests
- Reading, watching movies, music, Bollywood movies, spending time with family.
Treatments for liver cancers such as hepatoblastoma (HB), and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) include chemotherapy and vigorous surgery; which are extremely ineffective. Because of the ineptitude of traditional treatments and the natural efficiency of the human immune system, one can argue immunotherapy as the best treatment for cancer and to assure the specificity of immunotherapy. It has been shown that gene-modified human dendritic cells (DCs) are able to modulate antigen-presenting cell functions and induce therapeutic immunity or tolerance in an antigen-specific manner. However, reliable methods for gene delivery were not developed yet. Among different methods for cell transduction, vectors based on the adeno-associated virus (AAV) have attracted much attention as potent gene-delivery vehicles, mainly because of the persistence of this non-pathogenic virus in the human host cell and its sustainable therapeutic gene expression. A common AAV cassette contains many different parts including; ITRs, promoter, intron, the gene of interest, and the polyA signal. The size of the cassette can only be up to 4.5 kb due to the small packaging capacity of AAV. This limits the size of the promoter that is used down to about 600 to 700 base pairs. Most common promoters such as the CMV and CBA promoters fit the small-size criterion of AAV; however, these promoters have a wide range of human target cells. For this reason, cell-type-specific promoters are necessary for specific transcription and accurate gene expression of only the target cells. Dendritic-cell-specific promoters, such as fascin and CD11c, restrict expression to respective genes in the immature and mature antigen presenting cells. At the same time, these promoters are much larger in size, up to 4kB. These contradictions lead to the research goal of finding a small, yet efficient part of these cell-specific promoters that can be used with AAV vectors, making it more competent in dendritic cell based immunotherapy.