March 1, 2018
Course 7, biology, is a staple of the MIT undergraduate experience and the academic home to many Koch Institute researchers. The biology department's newly updated website offers fresh perspectives from students and researchers shaping the future of cancer research and human health. Take, for example, Alissandra Hillis, an undergraduate in the Vander Heiden Lab whose current investigations of cancer metabolism are rooted in childhood curiosity and her own family's encounters with the disease. Hillis's time at MIT has led her down the paths of both translational and policy-based work. Similarly, undergraduate Courtney Diamond, former Irvine Lab researcher and advisee of KI member Robert Horvitz, is combining both personal and professional interests to shape her anticipated career in public health. On the flip side, graduate student Faye-Marie Vassel has shifted her focus away from science policy to a more hands-on study of cancer biology, thanks in part to her early forays into science outreach and her current studies of chemotherapy resistance in the KI's Hemann and Walker laboratories. Likewise, undergraduate Elizabeth Li has been inspired from her time in three different cancer-related labs—including the Yilmaz and Lees labs—to one day start her own. Finally, graduate student Zhaoqi Li describes how multidisciplinary and multicultural experiences led him to the Vander Heiden Lab to study how cancer cells fuel their growth. We are sure that all five of these researchers, along with others featured in graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral testimonials, will continue to push boundaries and uncover fundamental truths, as a matter of course.