I can’t thank POE enough for connecting me to an incredible internship opportunity. This past summer, I was able to intern at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS)—a pharmaceutical company—in Redwood City as part of the Discovery Research team. What started as a nine-week internship became a thirteen-week internship that kept me intrigued the whole summer. During my time at BMS, I worked on two different projects that focused on oncology research. These two projects were at completely different stages: one was in an explorative stage while the other one was in a clinical-trial stage.
In the exploratory-stage project, I worked with one supervisor and two mentors and we focused on targeting type 2 (M2) macrophages, which are also known as “bad” macrophages since they suppress the immune system and thus favor tumor growth. Besides learning why targeting macrophages is promising in oncology research, I also learned how to keep a culture of macrophage-expressing secondary cells. I kept these cells in culture and after a couple weeks I did antibody titrations to identify the best primary and secondary antibodies and the best concentrations for testing on primary cells such as bone marrow cells that expressed M2 macrophages and tumor cells.
For the clinical-stage project, I worked with one supervisor and one mentor and we focused on T cells since these cells produce a cytokine that is modified and given as a drug to help the patients’ immune system attack cancer cells. Unfortunately, this drug’s efficacy declines after certain doses, so my group and I were trying to figure out why that happens. Most of the time I did PBMC isolation from blood and T cell isolation from PBMCs and worked with the isolated T cells. I usually stained T cells to look at receptor expression and also a specific cytokine production to test our hypotheses.
Although the projects were different, both used the same equipment for running the samples: a flow cytometer. Sometimes I also did AlphaLISA when looking at cytokine production. After gathering the data, I analyzed it using a software called FlowJo. Towards the end of my eighth week I presented the information and results I had gathered until then to the BMS site in Redwood City. The amount of support, encouragement and love received from the amazing community at BMS definitely made unquestionable my acceptance to extend the internship four more weeks.
I will always be grateful to POE for connecting me to this opportunity that not only allowed me to learn about the process of developing cancer drugs, but also allowed me to do research and spark my curiosity in the field.
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