Protein Suppression in Ovarian Cancer

Student June Alomari working in the science lab.
Student June Alomari working in the science lab.

Two Sweet Briar students have been conducting summer honors research on how suppressing a certain protein may affect cancer cells.

Posted on July 14, 2023

Rising seniors June Alomari and Shannon Carter have been working closely at Sweet Briar this summer with Dr. Kala Bonner to examine the effects of protein suppression in the treatment of ovarian cancer, particularly High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer, which is the most common and lethal form of ovarian cancer.

June’s research involves suppressing a protein found in cancer cells to determine whether it affects the cancer cells’ ability to metastasize throughout the body. Shannon’s research also involves protein suppression, but her goal is to see how the protein affects cancer cells’ ability to proliferate.

Student Shannon Carter presenting her work Shannon Carter '24 presents her findings to the Sweet Briar College community.
Shannon says she came to Sweet Briar intending to become a veterinarian, but now plans on continuing cancer research in graduate school. “I got into cancer biology on accident. I dropped a business class and needed to fill the spot, so I took cancer biology. Loved it. So now I’m on track to research cancer post grad. Dr. Bonner’s graduate research was with the same protein, MACF1 in Glioblastoma, which is brain cancer; studies suggest that there is a correlation between MACF1 expression and treatment resistance in Ovarian Cancer, so we decided to explore.”

June sees her research as an important step in reaching her goal of becoming a gynecologist. “Doing this research helps me learn more about different diseases that impact people with uteruses, as well as help me be a better member of society and prepare me for my academic endeavors in the future.”

“There’s a misconception that because Sweet Briar is a small school you can’t scale down big research projects like this to fit our resources, but you totally can,” adds June. “I want other students to know that, to know that they can do amazing research here.”

June, from Sterling, Virginia, is majoring in biology and minoring in English and creative writing. Shannon, from King George, Virginia, is a biology major and chemistry minor, as well as a member of the equestrian team.