Second-year veterinary student earns national stipend for summer project researching anticancer drugs
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
MANHATTAN — Hard work has its rewards. Just ask Michael Porta, a second-year veterinary student at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, who is the recipient of a $4,000 national research stipend from the Morris Animal Foundation.
Porta, Suffern, New York, is one of 25 veterinary students from different universities across the country chosen for the stipend. It was used for a research project he worked on this summer.
"My research this summer was focused on the effect of the anticancer drug fulvestrant on canine mammary carcinoma cells," Porta said. "Fulvestrant has been used in human breast cancer patients with advanced stage metastatic disease, but research on its effect on canine cells is lacking. Surprisingly, we found that concentrations shown to be effective in killing human cancer cells were not effective in killing canine cancer cells, but that proteins involved in the mitosis and apoptosis pathways were affected by the drug."
Porta's research project was conducted through the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Research Scholars Program. Students in the program work with faculty mentors who are experts in different medical and science disciplines. Porta's mentor was Annelise Nguyen, an associate professor of toxicology in the college's diagnostic medicine and pathobiology department who researches breast cancer. Nguyen also is the director of the Veterinary Research Scholars Program.
"I am impressed by how much Michael achieved in a 12-week program," Nguyen said. "Not only has he submitted a well-written research proposal to the Morris Animal Foundation, but he also generated significant data using multiple molecular techniques and approaches that would take other students months to master each technique. The unique aspect of his project is that anticancer drugs targeting hormone receptor-positive tumors can be considered for the treatment of canine mammary carcinoma."
The research stipends offered by the Morris Animal Foundation are part of the foundation's Veterinary Student Scholars Program, created in 2005. The program encourages veterinary students to pursue research careers by providing summer stipends so students can focus entirely on a project of their own design while working with a mentor at their respective veterinary colleges.