Sept. 23, 2019

Leading undergrads share their summer research findings at Sept. 25 symposium

Faculty of Science’s Alikhan Mansuri credits Markin USRP in Health and Wellness for inspiring his future endeavours

Fifty-seven undergrad research projects — on topics ranging from bicycle injuries to the effects of computer screens to the use of cannabis in cancer care and more — will be showcased on Wednesday, Sept. 25 when the Markin Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) in Health and Wellness hosts its annual research symposium.

Since its inception in 2002, the program has provided benefits to numerous outstanding learners, such as: understanding the many aspects and steps involved in research; writing and presenting research results; and learning to integrate theory and practice in an experiential environment. Thanks to the program, motivated students had the opportunity to partner with internationally renowned University of Calgary researchers, investigating innovative solutions to current health and wellness issues.

Fourth-year Faculty of Science student Alikhan Mansuri is grateful to be one of the 54 recipients participating in the 2019 program. “The Markin USRP is a great opportunity to conduct a research project that you are passionate about. The program provides an innovative environment to learn and practice methods and techniques available for research,” says Mansuri.

Mansuri spent four months analyzing how pancreatic tumour genes influence patient survival. Working under the guidance of Dr. Oliver Bathe, MD, a professor in the departments of Surgery and Oncology, Mansuri’s goal was understanding which genes are working together to ultimately influence patient quality of life and survival. Their overarching aim is to identify potential therapeutic drug targets for pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in North America. Only two per cent of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer will live five years from diagnosis. New treatments are vital for improving patient well-being and survival rates. Mansuri’s research this summer is important in the fight against cancer as his findings have the potential to provide insight as to which molecular features of a pancreatic tumour can be potential drug targets for treatment.

Mansuri’s Markin USRP experience has opened his eyes to the critical role of research in advancing care and treatment for patients.

“Research will certainly be part of my future endeavours,”says Mansuri. “I am humbled by the opportunity to advance the understanding of survival rates for patients. This study will provide insight as to how we can help patients live longer lives. I am very passionate about improving patient well-being and quality of life and this research allows me to contribute to our understanding of pancreatic cancer.”

The student research symposium takes place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the University of Calgary’s Rozsa Centre. On display will be the projects completed in the summer 2019 session and the 2019 Graeme Bell Travel Award winners.  

The Markin Undergraduate Student Research Program in Health and Wellness has ended after the summer 2019 session. The university acknowledges the philanthropic support of Allan Markin, Hon. LLD, OC, AOE, the sole and substantial donor for the USRP since 2006, for making the program possible and contributing to the learning and success of its many participants.

Oliver Bathe is a surgical oncologist and professor at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is a member of the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute, CCTG Clinical Trials Group Gastrointestinal Tumor Group Executive, co-chair of the CCTG Hepatobiliary Working Group, and member of the Intergroup Hepatobiliary Task Force.