In the new STEM building, room 102 filled up quickly with eager students and faculty waiting to hear Dr. David Wei give a lecture about his new research on kidney cancer. Dr. Wei, a clinical researcher for NIH (National Institute of Health), works in Building 10. This department within NIH works on developing life saving treatments for various illnesses. Dr. Wei focuses on finding new treatments for clear cell carcinoma.
Dr. Wei began the presentation with a discussion of epigenetics in relation to kidney cancer. He defines epigenetics as the “study of heritable changes in gene function that do not involve change in the DNA sequence”. Research in the field of epigenetics began from the question, “how can experiencing a famine affect your grandchildren?”. This question prompted researchers to focus not only on factors that a person experiences in his or her lifetime, but also what his or her parents were exposed to. Since epigenetics is reversible, researchers like Dr. Wei can work on treatments for the various ailments it causes.
Dr. Wei gave a detailed explanation of his experimental process, which involves innovative technologies such as a robot that can test multiple drugs at a time. New technologies such as this robot speed up the production time of life saving treatments.
For engineering students, especially biomedical engineering students, Dr. Wei’s presentation gave insights into the future of cancer research. In addition, Dr. Wei gave the students valuable information on internships and opportunities at NIH.