Gage Brummer, Ph.D.
M3 - P7
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
I was born in Western Kansas and raised in Kansas City. After high school and looking at the astronomic costs of a post-secondary education, I decided to stay in state at Kansas State University. While there, I was able to participate as a primary researcher in both a biology lab and a chemistry lab. Through those experiences I was able to spend every summer away at a research internship. One of those internships was at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I spent two summers with my biology lab PI from KSU, Dr. Gary Conrad, studying a corneal disease called keratoconus on spiny dogfish shark corneas, swimming in the freezing Maine ocean, hanging out with awesome people, and hiking nearby mountains in Acadia National Park.
Through the chemistry lab that I worked in with Dr. Chris Culbertson, I was able to go to The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL to work with the lab of Dr. Brian Paegel on constructing unilamellar vesicles with microfluidic devices. Based on work that I did there, I presented a poster at the Biophysical Society meeting in San Diego, CA. While at that conference I was talked with a researcher from UCSD, Dr. Neal Devaraj, who offered me a position after college. I worked with him and his lab for the next ten months on using novel organic reactions to tag proteins and label known markers of breast cancer cells. After months of interviewing and traveling over the USA, I decided to choose the University of Kansas Medical Center as my future residence for the greater portion of a decade.
Since being here I have traversed the icy slopes of the first two years of medical school and summited the first peak of medical school that is the USMLE Step 1 exam. Since June of 2015 I have been working in Dr. Nikki Cheng's lab in the Department of Pathology, looking at how the immune system can drive the progression of ductal carcinoma in-situ to invasive ductal carcinoma. Using cell culture and mouse xenograft models, we are looking for novel mechanisms to predict progression, and eventually seeking targets for preventing progression and curing disease.
The reason I chose KUMC over the other schools that I was accepted to was because of the sense of comradery and dedication that the students and the program leaders at KUMC exhibited. A lot of the larger programs I encountered seemed disconnected at best and toxic at worst, and I didn't want to spend my 20's in that environment. The other reason I chose KUMC is because it is in Kansas City, the best kept secret in the USA. As far as a city goes, we have it all, at a fraction of the price, and often with available parking.
When I'm not in the lab you can find me at home cooking, brewing beer, watching sports, reading books, and contemplating suburban existence. You may also see me at one of the local reservoirs fishing, camping, hiking, kayaking, or boating, depending on the weather and how the fish are biting. I love trying new places to eat or grab a drink, and I have a huge list of places to try (even though I've lived here full time for nearly 3 years!) When I'm not in Kansas City you can find me traveling the beautiful country that we live in, which is all very accessible from the geographical center of the USA.
Mentor: Nikki Cheng, Ph.D.