Focus on 2017 Regeneron Participants Sandra Li and Seongjee (Alison) Park

By CAROLINE CHEN

Sandra Li

Elucidating Cancer Racial Health Disparities: The Differential Response of African and Caucasian American Colon Cancer Cells to Vitamin E
Sandra’s study sought to observe the response of African American and Caucasian colon cancer cell lines to vitamin E supplementation.
“I found that as an anti-cancer agent, vitamin E inhibited progression of cancer more effectively in the African American cell lines than in the Caucasian cell lines. What caused this drastic difference was the expression of vitamin E-regulating genes. In the African American cell lines, genes that enhanced the absorption, metabolism, and transport of vitamin E were more highly expressed when compared to the Caucasian cell lines, suggesting that African Americans have an increased bioavailability of vitamin E. My research has demonstrated that different dietary compounds may exert different effects in various racial populations. This emphasizes the importance of having specific racial and ethnic recommended dietary allowances rather than generalizing the population and ignoring the genetic variations amongst racial groups,” explained Sandra.
“I have spent by far the most time working for this class and I am proud to say that my work has paid off. Dr. McCalla has been a wonderful mentor and role model to the students and I am glad that I had the opportunity to work with her for three years. I know that I will carry and utilize the skills I learn in this class far beyond high school and college and the invaluable
experience of working in the research community has influenced me to seek out more research opportunities in college,” said Sandra.
Sandra was named a Regeneron STS Scholar and a Siemens Competition National Semifinalist. In addition, Sandra has won 2nd and 3rd place at LISEF and NYSSEF (ISEF Division), respectively, in the Biomedical & Health Sciences category in 2016. Sandra also won Highest Honors at LISC and 3rd Place in Molecular Biology at WAC Lighting Research Association.
Sandra enjoys competitive swimming; playing on her travel soccer team; serving as a recreational soccer referee, Saturday Morning Swim instructor, and Technology aide at the Jericho Public Library; and participating in VEX Robotics.

 

Seongjee (Alison) Park
“Through the use of a novel mouse derived allograft, I have found that the p63 signaling pathway drives Myc signaling to regulate progression and chemoresistance in muscle invasive bladder cancer. My research has shown that JQ1 and cisplatin can be used in combination as a new treatment option for those patients with basal subtype bladder cancer who had no hope or even a choice to try to fight the disease,” explained Alison.
When asked about the research course, Alison replied, “The total truth is that science research is no joke. During my years in the research class, I became a person who doesn’t give up easily and a student who knows how to handle stress and challenge. Each time I felt like giving up, I remembered how hard I had already worked and pushed forward. I became a stronger and more independent person overall.”
Alison has earned Merit Honors at WAC Lightning Foundation Invitational Science Fair and Honorary Mention in Project Green Challenge. In addition, she was in the 1st Place team for Medical Marvels and was a participant in Regeneron STS and the Siemens Competition. Alison is an award-winning member of Jericho’s Science Olympiad team and has gone to All-County and All-State for singing. A well-rounded student, Alison plays eight sports and five instruments and enjoys reading, performing community service, and shadowing medical doctors.

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