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2019 Ralph Jones Pre-Medical Summer Research Fellowship Recipient: Victoria Davidson

Davidson working in the lab

One of five 2019 Ralph R. Jones, MD, FACS Pre-Medical Fellowship recipients was Victoria Davidson, pre-medical health science student in the School of Public and Population Health. Davidson studied in the lab of Kristen Mitchell, associate professor for the Department of Biological Sciences. Davidson worked alongside Mitchell to assist on a research project surrounding Melanoma.

Davidson was immersed in work to analyze enzymes that have the ability to effect the cause of Melanoma, a form of skin cancer that is the leader in skin cancer deaths.

Davidson’s role in this research study was to test and measure if specific enzymes played a role in estrogen clearance. This was critical to the research as estrogen is known to decrease Melanoma. The enzyme in question, known as Beta-glucuronidase, is one that is found in bacteria in the intestines and was hypothesized during her research study to alter Melanoma if the enzyme was altered. Thus, by changing the bacteria in the intestines, they could potentially influence skin cancer for future patients.

Davidson working in the lab alongside other students

To measure enzyme activity, Davidson would take tissues and isolate specific factors such as the tissue’s ribonucleic acid, to learn how much of the enzymes and genes were being expressed. This would then allow her to later be able to assess the levels of Melanoma and the severity of the cancer.

“Prior to this experience, I had no lab experience so this was a very eye opening and educating opportunity,” said Davidson. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a Ralph Jones recipient and to be able to make an impact on current Melanoma research. This fellowship has provided me with new knowledge and personal skills in which I’m confident have prepared me for medical school.”

Learn more about the Ralph R. Jones, MD, FACS Pre-Medical Fellowship.

By Taylor Music