Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Growing up, Emma played with legos, built bridges out of Popsicle sticks, and always hoped to follow in her father’s footsteps of becoming an engineer. As a sophomore chemical engineering student, she became passionate about applying her engineering skills towards solving complex problems in medicine. Researching cell-adhesion phenomena in the Biological Surface Engineering and Microfluidics Laboratory at Northeastern helped Emma realize the value of chemical transport phenomena in clinical diagnostics and regenerative medicine. Her love for research continued to grow when she co-oped at the then, 5-person startup company, Firefly Bioworks Inc. There she contributed to developing a novel assay for the detection of non-coding RNA biomarkers associated with many cancers. From working in a small start-up environment Emma saw first-hand what it meant to work hard, take incredible risks, and be fiercely passionate about enabling early detection and diagnosis of disease. Determined to share her enthusiasm and experiences with her peers, she tutors and mentors underclassmen through multiple venues on campus. She is president of the NU American Institute of Chemical Engineers and past co-captain of the Northeastern ChemE car team which she helped lead to a national championship in 2009. She also loves exploring the city of Boston, painting, musical theater, and dances with the No Limits Dance Crew on campus.
Under the guidance of Dr. James Bradner in the Department of Medical Oncology, Emma sought to develop a high throughput drug screening platform for a class of enzymes called Lysine Methyltransferases. Developing a screen is the first of many steps in the process of drug discovery for all forms of disease, in this case, rare forms of leukemia. A robust assay enables researchers to quickly and effectively assess the efficacy of thousands of molecules, drugs, and new compounds being synthesized (without ever touching a patient). At the culmination of the summer, she had successfully developed a workable platform to begin screening viable compounds for the treatment of multiple forms of rare and often untreatable blood cancers. She also was able to spend more than forty hours shadowing Dr. James Bradner and associate clinicians in the Brigham and Women's and Children's Hospital Boston Bone Marrow/Stem cell transplant centers along with various pediatric oncologists in the Dana Farber Jimmy Fund Clinic. Emma was invited to remain at the Bradner Lab full time through December 2011, in conjunction with the Northeastern University co-op program to see her research to completion.
Emma is traveling Europe and pursuing a Ph.D. at Stanford University in the fall of 2012.
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