Aislinn Davis (BIOL 3rd year) won an honorable mention for her poster presentation at the 2017 Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium (CAURS), held April 29 at Roosevelt University in Chicago. CAURS is one of the largest annual undergraduate research conferences in the country, bringing together hundreds of undergraduate students in the Chicagoland area from all academic disciplines to present their research.
Davis works with Jialing Xiang, professor of biology, whose research is focused on answering basic biological questions at the molecular level related to human diseases. Xiang’s areas of expertise include programmed cell death, signaling transduction, and cancer biology. One of the major projects involves proapoptotic and tumor suppressor Bax. Her team identified a unique Bax isoform, Bax delta 2, which may serve as a prognostic marker for cancer chemotherapy.
Davis said, “The work I presented centers around the protein Bax delta 2, a mutant version of a naturally occurring cell death protein called Bax that serves to regulate cell growth and prevent diseases like cancer. Oddly enough, this mutant protein is more effective than the original and tumors that express it are more receptive to chemotherapy. Additionally, Bax delta 2 is found more often in normal tissue with an un-mutated genome. Our research works to understand how this normal tissue is able to produce a mutant protein.
“Understanding the role and mechanism of Bax delta 2 in the cell could eventually help us understand how to make certain tumors more receptive to chemotherapy,” she added.