South Side Middle School Students Visit Lab of Jialing Xiang, NIH-Funded Cancer Researcher

Middle school students and staff from Strive Tutoring, a nonprofit educational services center in Hyde Park for students in grades 1-12, visited the lab of Biology Professor Jialing Xiang on July 25. Undergraduate Aislinn Davis (BIOL 4th year) organized and hosted the visit.

The Strive students looked at live cancer cells and did a simple experiment, comparing their own cheek cells with onion cells.

“Both the director and the kids were very impressed with the activity, and they want to come back for more,” Xiang said.

Strive Tutoring has been providing free educational support, customized tutoring, and enrichment activities to youth from Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods for over 20 years.

The event was sponsored by Xiang’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) R15 grant as a part of outreach activity. High school student Lily Chuang, who is working in Xiang’s lab this summer, assisted, as did prospective student Zach Parduhn.

Xiang’s 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.