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Medical partnerships key in student cancer research

Erik Larson

Under the direction of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Assistant Professor Erik Larson, they are examining a common protein in a search for the causes of cancer.

Illinois State University has begun working with Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and the Central Illinois Neuroscience Foundation to expand research opportunities for graduate students in the biological sciences.

Researchers will be provided with residual tissue samples from patients undergoing surgical resection or biopsy for suspected cancer. The samples are something new for students at Illinois State University.

“Most of the samples our students study are models, and these are lab-generated,” said Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Erik Larson. He is overseeing research that explores the connections between the body’s DNA and cancer.

Actual patient lab samples that otherwise would have been destroyed will be tested “to see if we can discover patterns that will be useful in understanding cancer,” Larson said.

He and two graduate students will utilize the samples, which will provide a continuous resource for the cancer research team. The same samples can be used for multiple projects.