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Provost’s Professional Experience Program

The Provost’s Professional Experience Program (PEP) was created by the Office of the Provost and is administered by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA).  The program aims to create meaningful campus student employment opportunities with particular emphasis on expanding research opportunities and career development for undergraduate students.

Aalia Shariff is a senior undergraduate Biochemistry student performing research in Dr. Melanie Simpson’s lab (since Fall, 2017). Her project is focused on understanding the mechanisms that contribute to prostate tumor recurrence following androgen deprivation therapy. To do this, she uses cell culture models of human prostate cancer that represent either early-stage disease or therapy-resistant recurrent stages of the disease. With the cell culture models, she is able to examine how changes to the process of androgen metabolism contribute to recurrent disease. She is increasing or decreasing enzyme levels that control how androgen is used in the cell, and comparing the effects in early and late stage cells to determine if these enzyme levels cause recurrence and if they can be targeted to prevent recurrence. She uses biochemical analytical tools such as DNA preparation, protein quantification, and western immunoblotting to monitor the different effects. When she finishes her projects and her degree, she plans to attend medical school.