A group of undergraduate students at Jarvis Christian College have spent more than a year researching ways to fight and even cure cancer. Unlike most hands-on programs for undergrads, this one runs year-round.
Dr. Shakhawat Bhuiyan said the program gives students an opportunity to enter graduate or medical school with extensive research experience under their belt.
Seven of the research students will head to Washington, D.C., this week to present their findings at the Emerging Researchers National Conference.
“We’re looking at how we can use natural products to cure cancer,” Bhuiyan said. “I’m really happy this project gave the students an opportunity to do this research.”
Some of the natural products being used to treat cancer cells include garlic extract and ginger.
Junior Honour Adewumi is researching the benefits of using synthesized gold nanoparticles
“I use (the gold) to trick the cells, and see how they react to it,” she said. “Anytime I interact with other undergrads, most say they don’t get a chance to do this.”
Honour and her classmate Jason Sharp, a senior, see very different career paths for themselves after getting hands-on experience.
Both now plan to go into medical research.
“When they told me about the program, I was (hesitant). I tried it anyway and I really enjoyed it.” Sharp said. “Compared to reading articles, it’s pretty interesting. I feel more confident knowing I have hands on-experience.”
Adewumi said she now cannot imagine doing anything else.
Dr. Glendora Carter, chair of the college’s chemistry department, said the program has done wonders for their student retention rate.
“It’s amazing. When they start this research, they’re doing things they wouldn’t until grad school,” she said. “It helps them understand what they’re doing and keeps them interested.”
Carter said she’s excited about mentoring the next generation of medical researchers.
“That’s what college is about, preparing them for the next step,” she said.
On Wednesday the students will leave for their conference in D.C. where they will present their research and learn more about the next step toward their careers.