Summer Community of Scholars

Who's improving human health?

DUSHANI PALLIYAGURU

Academic and Research Interests

In the spring of my sophomore year, I talked to my faculty adviser, Dr. David Thurlow, about getting involved with research and gaining some laboratory experience. He suggested that I looked into ongoing research projects both at Clark as well as in facilities outside such as UMass medical school. I contacted faculty members at UMass medical school and in the summer of 2007 I started working with Dr. Leslie Shaw and Dr. Karl Simin in the cancer biology department on a collaborative bioinformatics project between their labs. Since then, I have been working closely with Dr. Shaw on a project that I find very challenging and exciting.

My project is currently the basis for my senior honors thesis titled "The Significance of Insulin Receptor Substrate 2 (IRS-2) in the regulation of Apelin Gene Expression in Breast Cancer Metastasis." Previous studies have shown that Insulan receptor substrate-2 (IRS-2) a protein required for important cell signaling pathways, promotes breast cancer metastasis. The goal of my project has been to identify genes that are activated by the Irs-2 protein to determine the mechanism by which Irs-2 induces metastatic trends in mouse models. This work bears a great significance to understanding tumor biology because the signaling pathways that were identified can be potentially used as a successful drug targets for breast cancer. Although the work I have done in the lab is extremely challenging, the science behind my work has been so fascinating that it encouraged me to put in all the required time and energy. It has been especially inspiring to work with a talented group of graduate students and medical research scientists on a real project that has the potential to answer important questions. This makes all the learning come to life.

Outside the Lab

I am the head resident adviser of Dodd hall, the only all-female residence hall on-campus. Additionally, I am also the chair of the South Asian Studies Forum which is a group on campus that promotes awareness on South Asia within the Clark community. I am also a student trustee on the student affairs committee of the board of trustees of Clark University. During my time at Clark, I have been involved with the university judiciary board, model united nations and volunteered at Saint Vincent hospital which I enjoyed very much being part of and also played intramural basketball which gave me the opportunity to stay in touch with one of my all time passions, sports.

Scholarships/Awards

Global Scholar (class of 2009)

American Institute of Chemists award for Biochemistry 2009

Gryphon and Pleiades Honor Society, Clark University: membership awarded to 12 seniors for extracurricular and academic achievement

Clark University, International Studies Stream Fellow: Research project on "Garment Factory Workers in Sri Lanka"

Clark University, Anton and Steinbrecher Fellow: Research project on "Science Education, Accessibility and Research"