University of Calgary

Student researches breast cancer

July 9, 2009
Jessica Hann is studying whether or not breast cancer cells can stimulate the process of bone breakdown.
Jessica Hann is studying whether or not breast cancer cells can stimulate the process of bone breakdown.

Taking advantage of a rare opportunity

Jessica Hann will be joining the fight this summer as she conducts research on breast cancer for her Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP).

The third-year biological sciences student is studying whether or not breast cancer cells can stimulate the process of bone breakdown.

“If they can, I will try to understand the mechanisms by which they do this,” says Hann, 19.  “Once breast cancer metastasizes to the bone, the cancer is then incurable. I find this interesting because it shows the importance of the research.”

Her work is part of the Markin Undergraduate Student Research Program in Health and Wellness which provides students early in their education the rare opportunity to work with leading U of C scientists.  The goal of this program is to enhance the undergrad experience and increase the possibilities of future success for the students.

“The research in Dr. Shemanko's lab just jumped off the page. I thought researching breast cancer would be really interesting and rewarding because it's a disease that affects so many people,” says Hann.

“I also didn't know very much about breast cancer so I thought it would be a great learning experience.”

The research will be conducted in Carrie Shemanko’s lab under the supervision of Shemanko, as well as Ashley Sutherland, whose masters’ project is related to Hann’s work.  Hann believes that the guidance she will be receiving will be beneficial.  “I am lucky to work closely with Ashley because she’s really friendly and a great teacher.”

Hann is hoping to go into med school after completing her undergraduate degree. Her spare time is spent studying for the MCAT which she will write summer.

Hann says this is a unique opportunity.  “I feel privileged to have this opportunity to further my knowledge in research while working on a project involving a disease which has such a large presence in our society.”

Bookmark and Share