Paz Polak and Franklin Huang
Men of African ancestry are twice as likely to develop and die from prostate cancer compared to men of European ancestry. However, a genetic reason for this discrepancy has yet to be determined. To begin to uncover mutational differences between these two groups, Daphnee used computational methods to analyze the somatic mutations present in existing sequencing data from a cohort of African American men with prostate cancer, and a cohort of European men. Results from her analysis between the two cohorts demonstrated that the African American cohort was developing mutations at a rate faster than the European cohort. In addition, she focused her analysis on known prostate driver genes, particularly on BRCA2. Analysis of the mutations present in BRCA2 revealed that truncating mutations, compared to missense mutations, were significantly enriched in the European cohort. Even more interestingly, comparisons with all cancer types demonstrated that truncating mutations in BRCA2 are specifically enriched in prostate cancer.
"At first, I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in as a high school student in such a well known research institute. However, within the first week, I found myself feeling extremely welcomed. I truly appreciated how my mentors and the other members of the lab took their time to get to know me and welcome me into the Broad community,” said Daphnee. This summer helped her realize that she definitely sees herself doing more lab work in the future and plans on applying to colleges that will allow her to pursue this passion.