Ohio State senior neuroscience major Louis Gibson was recently named a Pelotonia Undergraduate Scholar by The James Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State. The award is the sixth such honor since 2018 for Ohio State students working with Ohio State Marion faculty mentors.
The Pelotonia Undergraduate Scholars Program provides a one-year research award to the best and brightest Ohio State University undergraduate students who want to help cure cancer. The scholarship pays Gibson 12-14k through the upcoming academic year to continue his research.
A graduate of Buckeye Valley High School in Delaware, began his academic career at Ohio State Marion, before recently transitioning to the Columbus campus to complete his neuroscience major before beginning medical school.
According to Gibson, his project investigated a DNA replication gene (polymerase E), which is known as a tumor suppression gene. Mutations in this gene have already been linked to a variety of diseases and cancers.
"This polymerase is something that every cell requires for survival," said Gibson. "Mutations affect primarily colorectal cancers. When the gene is mutated, it can no longer suppress colorectal cancer formation."
Gibson shared, that the team of Ohio State researchers he is working with is trying to find the different mutations that would arise in this gene in colorectal cancers and compare them to colorectal cancers that do not have polE mutations to find out how significant these mutations are for cellular transformation and immortalization.
"It is quantitative analysis," said Gibson. "We generally just run through public sourced patient data and compare the information. The website we mainly use is Catalogue of Somatic Mutations in Cancer, (COSMIC).
"They tell us whether the patient has a mutated gene or not. We compare it to others with a non-mutated gene and try to determine whether there is a correlation between that and the cancer we are studying," said Gibson.
According to Gibson they have been working on it for about a year. We took a pause to allow me to study for the M-CAT.
He shared that he hoped to complete the analysis of during his Pelotonia fellowship tenure.
Gibson shared that the research he is part of has far reaching implications toward fighting cancer early. Allowing doctors to predetermine whether these people would be predisposed to get colorectal cancer.
"If this is implemented to have a strong correlation, they can get pre-screened and help prevent formation of cancers before they have spread," Gibson explained.
Gibson, who spent 2 years at Ohio State Marion before transitioning to the Columbus campus, plans to graduate spring semester 2024 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and hopes to go to medical school.
Gibson feels being part of such a prestigious scholarship and research initiative will help him when it comes to furthering his education and being accepted into a top-notch medical school.
"I think personally it will improve them greatly. It is a limited scholar program. A lot of schools look for students that have these prestigious scholarships."