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UW-Superior dives into cancer research

Photo courtesy of Superior Telegram

After years of preparation, assistant professor of biology, Jenean O'Brien was able to actively begin research regarding the role two genes play in the development of a pediatric muscle cancer in zebrafish. UW-Superior's historically successful environmental research program in correlation with O'Brien's expertise in health and molecular biology equips both the university and the scientists with great platform to conduct this possibly revolutionary cancer research. It is known that zebrafish share a similar genetic makeup with humans, making them a viable subject to examine in this particular research. The transparent embryos produced by the zebrafish also make tumor development particularly accessible to O'Brien and her colleagues. 

O'Brien never fails to stress the importance of partaking in hands-on science to her students and colleagues in the biology department, and her positive influence in the field has gained the attention of many students, including Aaron Clark and Kim Kobar. Both Clark and Kobar work as assistants in O'Brien's lab, and after being immersed in hands-on experimentation, the students discovered unknown passions for research. The research project was awarded a three-year, $250,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health, providing stipends for three students each summer. O'Brien's decision to pursue the study at a small university allowed for students to partake in one-on-one research opportunities, and those involved have gained invaluable experience in the process. 

Learn more about the project in-depth here.