My interest in clinical medicine stems from a four-year medical program that I was a part of during high school, while my interest in research was discovered post-undergrad.
After graduating from Kansas Wesleyan University with my Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry, I worked at a clinical research organization (PRA Health Sciences) for a year. I worked in PRA's flow cytometry department, where I learned how to produce, analyze and interpret flow data. After realizing my passion for research, I began working at Kansas University Medical Center in Dr. Jill Hamilton-Reeves' lab. My time in Jill's lab was spent on two ongoing research projects involving prostate and bladder cancer patients. My predominant role within these studies was to analyze changes in the level of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in peripheral human blood using flow cytometry. MDSCs suppress the immune system and are known to expand in obesity, chronic stress and during surgery. A shared aim of both studies is to determine how systemic MDSC levels can be modulated in urological cancer patients by either preoperative weight loss (obese prostate cancer patients) or the perioperative intake of an immunonutrition drink fortified with arginine (bladder cancer patients).