Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"IBCN - Identifying health and wellness behavior with an impact on genes"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2013 - DURI
Research area(s):
health and wellness behavior and behavioral risk factors, methodologies of panel data analysis, content analysis, and/or data mining
Project Description:
International Breast Cancer and Nutrition Project of Purdue Center for Cancer Research is in the process of constructing epigenetics and nutrigenomics databases on cceHUB, hosted by Purdue University. This project aims to expand cceHUB-IBCN to include a behavioral database that will provide a forum for sharing scientific evidence-based information that relates to behavioral parameters that eventually lead to epigenetic modifications (i.e., modifications at the gene organization level that lead to changes in gene expression). For example, physical exercise affects DNA methylation (a major epigenetic change) and stress causes methylation of cortisone gene, which in turn affects many genes. The HUB is a tool that provides user-friendly information in seconds with comparisons possible for all studies that, with data mining, identify the precursors for certain behavior and its impact on the risk factors for breast cancer (in this pilot project) and also cancers in general across regions and cultures in the world. The approach encompasses: 1) examining existing database on behavioral risk factors in adults (BRFSS) and adolescents (YRBSS) on the national and global bases for discerning key risk factors that impact food intake and dietary habits; 2) discerning any similarities and discrepancies across cultures and incorporate these factors in the database; and 3) constructing a database of methodologies, interventions, outcomes that are organized by scanning of previous reports, studies, and monographs in National Center for Biotechnology Information and other data repositories.
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will be required to work independently, meticulously, and with an innovative mindset within a multidisciplinary team of students and faculty members. The intern will be guided to conduct extensive literature search and review as well as coordinate with the HUB administrator on organizing the database. The research will encompass the identification of behavioral patterns linked to epigenetic modifications based on existing information. Based on this work, hypotheses will be proposed for studies conducted by the IBCN group. Notably, these hypotheses will contribute to the building of a culturally aware lifestyle questionnaire to accompany epigenetic analyses of breast tissues in women in low and high risks of developing breast cancer. The student will interact with collaborators in research fields such as behavior, epigenomics (biology), and healthcare.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
GPA above 3.0. The interns who have some experience working with panel data and/or data mining would be most helpful.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 3 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Liu, Sandra
Consumer Science/Health and Human Sciences

Student Supervisor

Sandra S Liu

Cooperating Faculty

Sophie A. Lelièvre
Basic Medical Sciences/Veterinary Medicine
Lalatendu Acharya
Consumer Science/Health and Human Sciences