A Postcard From: Catherine Tsai ’20

Name: Catherine Tsai
Class Year: 2020
Major: Biology
Hometown: Wayne, N.J.

Internship Placement: University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Philadelphia

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working in a skin cancer biology lab in the dermatology department at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of medicine. I am currently working with another member of the lab to investigate the role of BTG2, a gene that might play tumor suppressing roles in cancer. The BTG2 gene has not been studied in skin or melanoma, and the mechanisms by which it suppresses tumors are relatively unknown. We are using our findings about the functional role of BTG2 that we collected from in vitro experiments to guide more medically relevant experiments in vivo using mouse models. I am also working on improving 3-dimensional human engineered skin tissue grafts so they can be grafted onto host mice. We plan on engineering the grafts so that some of them will either have BTG2 overexpressed or knocked down. Hopefully this will help us further define the roles for BTG2.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship in order to gain more research experience in the biomedical field. I am planning on either going to medical school or taking up a career in research. Dermatology is the field that I am interested in if I decide to go into either field, which is why I choose this particular lab.

Was there anything special about how you found this internship?

Last semester I had trouble finding research in the biomedical field, especially in an area as specific as dermatology. I didn’t think I’d go as far as contacting a lab outside of the Tri-Co to do off-campus research during the semester, but I’m very glad that I was able to join this lab, and that they are allowing me to work with them for the next couple of years.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite part of this internship is being able to work in the lab day to day. Last semester, I was only able to come in about twice a week. It is much easier to stay up to date with everything that goes on in the lab now that I am here all the time. I have gotten to know the lab members a lot more, and have been able to get more involved in the projects that are going on.