Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Nutrition-breast cancer onset-epigenome relationship"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Full-Year 2012 - CPIP
Research area(s):
cell biology and models, nutrition, epigenetics
Project Description:
This project is to analyze the impact of nutrients on the behavior and epigenome of breast epithelial cells. The student will work on nutrients such as folate and fatty acids that are proposed to have an impact on breast epithelial homeostasis and the risk of breast cancer development. Experiments will be conducted using human cell cultures that mimic stages prior and after breast glandular differentiation. The analysis will include a combination of experiments that measure the status of differentiation based on fluorescence microscopy analysis and changes in epigenetic marks (DNA methylation, histone modifications) by western blot analysis and microscopy. Notably we will be looking for sustained epigenetic changes that could be propagated throughout the development of the mammary gland. Indeed the mammary gland keeps developing from life in utero until menopause. The impact of nutrients in early stages of life that then modulate breast cancer risk would have to be engraved in the epigenome via permanent changes so that cancer develops years later. This project aims at deciphering the mechanisms by which nutrition sustainably affects the fate of the mammary epithelium.
Expected Student Contributions:
The student will perform protein analyses from the cell cultures based on western blots and fluorescence immunostaining that permit the evaluation of differentiation status and epigenomics in tissues. The student will be expected to read the literature pertaining to the topic of the project, design experiments and analyze the results under the guidance of the research team involved. Presentations of results in the form of slide shows and posters are also expected.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
CPIP requirements
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Lelievre, Sophie
basic medical sciences

Student Supervisor

Kim McDole

Cooperating Faculty

Joseph Irudayaraj