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Newton South High School
Newton, MA

Marek Orzechowski
Cancer Program 

Cancer patients suffer from various syndromes that manifest in organs distant from the tumor site; however, it is unclear how cancer has such far-reaching pathological effects.  It is likely that cancers secrete signals that globally alter an individual’s physiology. Identifying these signals will aid in the development of potential therapies that mitigate these effects.

Erik sought to discover novel cellular pathways activated by substances produced by cancer cells. He used computational techniques to study changes in gene expression patterns of healthy cells that were exposed to substances secreted by cancer cell lines. These expression profiles were compared to those from the same cell line exposed to substances secreted by healthy cells. The cancer-derived medium induced unique expression profiles, which were used to elucidate cellular pathways activated by cancer cells.

Erik applied to BSSP for the opportunity to apply biology to a field he was already interested in—computer science. “I didn’t realize before I participated in this program that computational biology could be so interesting. Bioinformatics is a major that I will be looking into in the future,” said Erik.