Undergraduate Research Program

Grace Zou

Grace posing for the cameraMajor: Biochemistry
Mentor: Ahmed Diab, Bruce Clurman, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Contact: gzou@uw.edu

Current research project: Three-Dimensional in vitro models of Wee1 Inhibition in Human Colorectal Cancer Cells


Grace is an upcoming junior at the University of Washington studying Biochemistry and pursuing a minor in Mathematics. She is passionate about furthering our understanding of treatable diseases and translating these results into improved patient therapeutics. Her current project focuses on developing more accurate models to gauge chemotherapeutic efficacies in cancer treatments. Outside of research, Grace enjoys writing, teaching, and walks in the park.


Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
Most cancer research is conducted in two-dimensional petri dishes, where cells grow flat like they’re on a plate. Cancer in our bodies doesn’t grow in two dimensions though, it forms characteristics “lumps” that we can sometimes even feel. I grow cells in a special well plate and medium where they can coalesce together and form a small ball—much more representative of the tumors we see in real life. We can then treat these tumors with chemotherapeutic drugs and see effects similar to what would happen in a patient.


When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I began research as an undergrad at the start of my sophomore year. I knew I wanted to do research in cancer, and I also wanted to experience research outside of a university setting. I looked up professors at the Hutch and sent resumes to those whose work I was interested in. An interview later, and I was starting my research position.


What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Cast your net wide! I think research is an opportunity to discover what you enjoy. Any field you could see yourself in or have the slightest curiosity about, apply for a research position in it!