Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical Vocational School
Taunton, MA

Monica Arniella
Cancer Program


“I decided to apply to BSSP after my school toured the Broad Institute,” said Maggie. “I was in awe at how similar, yet different their labs were from my own. I could see the tools I used in my school every day (pipettes, microtubes, racks, reagents), yet it was on an entirely different level from the world I was used to. This made me feel like if I applied, I could belong there.”  After joining BSSP, Maggie worked hard to study immunotherapy, a promising new treatment for various cancers. Though this treatment is effective for many, predictors of resistance remain imperfectly understood. Maggie worked with a published melanoma dataset containing gene expression before and after anti-PD-1 treatment. Working closely with her partner Juliana, and using Python packages such as pandas and scikit-learn, Maggie tried to assess whether best overall response (BOR) to immunotherapy had a statistically significant relationship with pre-treatment gene expression using the Kruskal-Wallis H test. After dimensionality reduction with principal component analysis, she ultimately found a potential association between the expression of several genes and BOR, which recapitulated previous findings and can be investigated further.  “After this program, there’s no question whether I’ll pursue a research position or not,” said Maggie. “I’ve fallen in love with science all over again!”