The effects of obesity on breast cancer metabolism

Mentor Name:
Greg Ducker

Mentor Position:
Assistant Professor




Project Description:

**This is a paid research opportunity for a matriculated, degree-seeking University of Utah undergraduate student! The student will be paid a $5,000 taxable stipend for 400 hours of work beginning July 1 and ending December 8. The student would be expected to attend professional development events offered July 1-August 4.

**To apply to this position, please click here to submit a current resume/CV and brief cover letter. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and will be accepted until June 8 or when the position is filled. Applicants may be asked to conduct a phone interview with Dr. Ducker before a final decision is made.

The transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous one necessitates a profound remodeling of cellular metabolism to support the proliferative phenotype. Diet and obesity can significantly shape the metabolic environment and either help or hinder tumor development. Obesity is associated with increased cancer incidence in breast cancer. One clear hypothesis is that changes in lipid metabolism induced by obesity directly contribute to breast cancer cell growth. In this project we are working in a mouse model of breast cancer to study changes in lipid metabolism that occur when a tumor cell grows in an obese mouse vs a lean one. Studying lipid metabolism in cancer is difficult and to address the important questions of not just what is different but how and why they are different, new tools and methods are needed. To address this challenge, our lab is developing new analytical methods to quantify not just steady-state levels of lipids, but also integrate isotope tracing to understand lipid metabolic fluxes. This project will utilize state-of-the-art mass spectrometry tools and is ideal for a student with a strong chemical and analytical background with a deep interest in cancer biology.

Opportunity Type:

Paid employment July 1-December 8

Student Role:

The Ducker lab is a biomedical research laboratory conducting laboratory-based experiments in cancer research. The lab consists of graduate students, technicians and postdoctoral fellows. As an undergraduate student researcher, you will be asked to fully participate in the functioning of the research group. You will be assigned to work with a permanent lab member who will guide you day-to-day in your laboratory work. Examples of experiments that you may perform include genetic engineering of mammalian cells using CRISPR/ Cas9, the culture of human cancer cells in vitro, developing analytic methods for mass spectrometry and working with high complexity mass spectrometry data through simple coding in R. The student will read background papers and perform their own literature searches for information relating to their specific experiments and summarize that research in a presentation. The exact experiments that the student will perform will depend upon their specific skills/ interests and the current experiments in the lab over the summer experience. The lab has weekly group meetings in which lab members share their progress and the student will present his/her summer research at the end of the experience.

Student Benefits:

Project Duration:

400 total hours July 1-December 8

Minimum Requirements: