Third-Year Student Publishes Three Articles Through Summer Research Program

COM_m chauFor most medical students, entering their third year of school marks a shift from classroom education to clinical education. It’s a busy year that starts preparing them for residency. On top of that, one student recently found the time to publish three research articles.

Melissa Chua, a third-year medical student at BUSM recently published two papers and a review article based on work she completed as part of the Medical Student Summer Research Program.

Chua, a native of Australia who grew up in Singapore, received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and neuroscience from Boston University. She also received a master’s degree in biotechnology from BU.

During her first year of medical school, Chua was accepted to the MSSRP under the mentorship of Isabel Dominguez, PhD, assistant professor of medicine. Along with Dominguez, Chua published a review paper, “CK2 in Cancer: Cellular and Biochemical Mechanisms and Potential Therapeutic Target,” in Pharmaceuticals, which focused on the function and interaction of CK2 in different cancers and the rationale behind why they believe CK2 is a potential therapeutic target. CK2 is a protein kinase involved in several different biological pathways, including cell growth and cell survival.

Chua also published a paper, “Cancer-Type Dependent Expression of CK2 Transcripts,” a follow-up to a paper previously published in the Dominguez lab, “Mining CK2 in Cancer,” both of which were published in the journal PLOS One. In the two papers, the team explored the expression of CK2 transcripts in cancer versus normal tissue.

In addition, Chua worked on a third paper, “Comparative Analysis of Non-viral Transfection Methods in Mouse Embryonic Fibroblast (MEF) Cells,” in the Journal of Biomolecular Techniques, which compared the efficacy of various non-viral transfection methods in MEF cells, which is commonly performed in laboratories worldwide. Transfection is the process of deliberately introducing naked or purified nucleic acids into eukaryotic cells.

Chua is currently taking a year off between her third and fourth years of medical school to conduct research on brain tumors at the Center for Stem Cell Therapeutics and Imaging at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my MSSRP experience and I think it’s a wonderful first step for those who haven’t had the opportunity to conduct research prior to medical school,” Chua said. “It provides a good platform for students to explore areas of interest outside the classroom and to involve themselves in full-time research.”

The MSSRP offers up to 40 competitive scholarships in the amount of $2,400 to first-year BU medical students to complete a research project during the summer between their first and second year of medical school. Students work full-time on their projects for seven weeks in a variety of departments including Medicine, Surgery, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, and Cardiology.

“The MSSRP helps students form strong connections with the various departments on campus and discover their own areas of interest,” she said. “I am so grateful to the MSSRP mentors for the opportunity and to Dr. Dominguez for her mentorship.”