Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Effect of Diet on Mammary Gland Development"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2010 - DURI
Research area(s):
Cancer Research
Project Description:
Obesity is a major health concern and a risk factor for increased tumor aggressiveness and mortality in premenopausal women. The recent epidemic of childhood obesity emphasizes a need to determine the influence of early increases in adiposity on cancer. To begin addressing this issue, we characterized an outbred rat model of early-onset diet induced obesity (DIO) and breast cancer. Weanling Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly placed on either a western or rat chow control diet. Animals on the western diet were divided into western obese and western lean groups based on percent fat mass. Western obese rats exhibited a significant 2-fold increase in fat mass, compared to western lean and rat chow animals. Our lab has begun to delineate the influence of diet and obesity on breast cancer by demonstrating a western diet at an early age results in earlier tumor onset, regardless of adiposity, whereas obesity significantly promotes tumor multiplicity and phenotype. This model represents a valuable tool for defining the relationship between childhood obesity and cancer, and for establishing strategies for the prevention of obesity-associated breast cancer. The objective of this project is to determine the effect that diet has had on the development of the mammary gland itself.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will be involved in examining whole mounts of mammary gland tissue taken from rats with mammary cancer fed various diets (high fat vs low fat). Students will be asked to fix and stain the tissue and then to image it using a microscope. Students will use the images to gather data related to mammary gland development.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
Minumum GPA = 3.0
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Camarillo, Ignacio
Biological Sciences

Student Supervisor

Therese Salameh
Graduate Student

Cooperating Faculty

Kolapo Ajuwon
Animal Sciences