A novel perspective for research

Winter 2014

Joan Miguel Romero

Schulich Leader at University of Toronto

A big question in cancer research is: What is the most effective way of identifying and diagnosing cancer? As it has been demonstrated, detecting cancer at an early stage can often lead to a better outcome for patients. Current research has taken interest in finding new identifiers for this disease in hopes of improving survival rates.

This summer, I had the privilege of participating in the SRI Summer Student Research Program, working in Dr. Arun Seth’s lab at the Sunnybrook Research Institute. This experience was an incredible opportunity to understand what it means to actively be a part of science.

At university, reading textbooks and completing assignments are, of course, integral foundations for students. An equally, if not more important part of science training are the laboratory components for courses, where we begin to develop the techniques that are the basics for our future careers. Research, as my experience has shown, is very distinct from this. There are no correct answers, only hypotheses followed by the intense, rigorous, and tedious experiments in an attempt to affirm the conclusions of the latter.

During the summer, the lab focused on finding new biomarkers for prostate cancer. After continuing to improve on practical laboratory techniques, in addition to standard procedures such as DNA gel electrophoresis and cell culture, this program has allowed me to further establish my interest in the medical sciences, particularly cancer research and oncology. This program was both challenging and compelling, and I hope that it provided a glimpse of what lies ahead. Pursing a Specialist degree in Pathobiology, I look forward to further experiences and the knowledge that accompanies them.

Science is an interesting field. Countless hours can be dedicated to the pursuit of “finding an answer”, and often we are just back where we started, now with more questions to ask. But every once in a while, there is a miraculous discovery that paves the way for new research, shifts the paradigms of previous concepts, and provides the glimmer of optimism that drives passionate scientists around the world to continue pursuing answers. It is thanks to people such as Mr. Seymour Schulich that provide opportunities for students to strive to reach their goals and contribute to the STEM areas of research.