Student-Driven Melanoma Research

Aisha Cato, a biological sciences major, is conducting melanoma research that has the potential to benefit millions of people suffering from skin cancer.

For the project, titled, Mitotic Index as a Prognostic Marker for Melanoma, Cato investigated the mitotic index, which is the rate of growth of different cancer cell lines derived from human melanoma. The information found from her melanoma research could help improve patients’ diagnosis and ultimately provide better treatment options.

Cancer affects every family worldwide – over 1 million cases in the U.S. alone. Cancer research is extensive as there are many variable factors.

melanoma research“Early detection and correct prognosis are very critical to the patient,” Cato said. “Therefore, investigating one way, such as the mitotic index, can potentially revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat cancers is remarkable.”

Cato said she was given the option by her advisor Dr. Moore to start this new project in conjunction with the biomedical engineering department or to join forces with an existing project. She chose melanoma research since it provided her the opportunity to work in the field of study she wants to pursue – Pathology.

Cato’s melanoma research has introduced her to other fields, like Oncology, and sparked her interest in a potential career in cancer research. The project has also widened her knowledge and taught her new techniques.

“I was really surprised by how quickly my cancer cells grew,” Cato said. “Working directly with these melanoma cells put into perspective how quickly tumors can grow, spread to different areas and affect patients’ body and overall health.”

When student’s conduct research, it helps cultivate connections and interactions with peers and other professionals that are beneficial to their education and career. It brings together students from all majors, whether it is engineering, life sciences or humanities, and provides the opportunity to work with and learn from students of all calibers.

Cato advised students to dedicate themselves 100% to their project. She said all the countless hours, sleepless nights and stress would be worth it when the project is complete.

“It was really rewarding for me to work on a project that is so pertinent to the lives of millions of people worldwide,” Cato said.

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