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The Levinson Emerging Scholars Program

Joan Bleecker - Chemistry

Joan Bleecker in her labJoan now hails from Gig Harbor, WA, but has lived all over the United States. She has wanted to attend the University of Washington since she was 10 years old.

The summer of her freshman year, Joan was given an opportunity to perform research in the Dovichi Lab working with breast cancer cells, and has been researching ever since. She cannot say enough for the importance of research for any would-be-chemist. After all, knowledge is nothing without practical application.

Research has also given Joan the chance to present her work all over the country. She enjoys these trips immensely, even though she has a tendency to get incredibly nervous before speaking in front of others.

Joan’s chemistry career began with an amazing high school chemistry teacher. She believes it is important that young students get a good introduction to chemistry. Joan tutors at the University of Washington’s CLUE center and for the Youth Tutoring Program (YTP) in Jackson Park. After getting her degree in chemistry, she hopes to teach chemistry for a few years before attending graduate school to pursue her Ph.D.

Mentor: Norman Dovichi, Chemistry

Project Title: Protein fingerprinting of MCF-7 breast cancer cells

Abstract: Breast cancer is leading cause of cancer mortality for women in the United States. Prognostic indicators like progesterone receptor and Her2/neu proteins guide treatment and predict outcomes. Their expression levels directly affect patient survivability. Even with these indicators, there is a need for more detailed information to guide therapy. By generating protein fingerprints, which show the expression levels of multiple proteins at one time, our lab hopes to provide a valuable prognostic tool for cancer patients. MCF-7 is an established breast cancer cell line. By dosing MCF-7 with the chemotherapeutic agent mitomycin C (MMC), we hope to isolate survivor populations for protein studies. Cell viability will be determined by hemocytometry with Trypan blue staining and flow cytometry. Proteins in the survivor cell lines will be analyzed using 2D SDS PAGE/LC-MS and capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence detection.