Gertrude C. Buehring, Professor

Closed (1) Investigation of a possible viral etiology of breast cancer

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

My research focuses on breast cancer, a disease of epidemic proportions. Males as well as females can develop breast cancer. We are interested in the primary prevention of breast cancer.

To institute primary prevention of a disease, the cause must be known so that the causative agent can be intercepted before it has an effect on humans. In mice, breast cancer is caused by a virus transmitted to the offspring through the mothers milk. Our hypothesis is that human breast cancer is caused by a virus of cattle, possibly transmitted to human through consumption of unpasteurized dairy products and undercooked beef or possibly transmitted directly from human to human. We have identified antibodies to this virus in human blood, the presence of the virus in human breast tissue, and the association of virus with breast cancer. Our current experiments focus on determining how this virus might be transmitted to humans.

Spring semester 2021 project would involve testing grocery store products for the presence of bovine leukemia virus(BLV), which we have found to cause 58% of breast cancer cases in US women. URAP student would help with obtaining food samples, extracting DNA from the samples, and analyzing results to see which food products are the most likely to carry BL.

Other possible assignments include:

1. Immunohistochemistry to detect viral protein in human tissues and cells.
2. Cell culture of virus-infected cells and in vitro tests for transformation to a malignant state.
3. Analysis of DNA sequences from human breast and blood specimens.
3. Distributing fliers around the campus to recruit volunteers for experiments
4. Searching for published literature and formatting references used in grant proposals and manuscripts
6. Entering data into Excel or other spreadsheets and analyzing data with statistical programs

In addition the undergraduate apprentice would be expected to help with some of the following housekeeping tasks necessary to keep a laboratory running smoothly:

1.Processing dirty and clean glassware/plasticware lab benchtops,equipment, and floors
3.chemical inventory
4.solution preparation

Minimum time commitment: 9 hours per week, 2 semesters, preferably 2-3 years. Limited to juniors and seniors.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Hua Min Shen, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: Must have at least junior standing. One year each of college level chemistry and biology and knowledge of basic computer programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel (including how to do graphs), Powerpoint is desirable. Some previous laboratory experience outside of class laboratories is desirable but not required. PLEASE INCLUDE WITH YOUR APPLICATION YOUR FALL CLASS SCHEDULE - please list the schedule information online below the statement of interest.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs