Phi Kappa Phi Travel Award | Spotlight

Student research geared toward treatment of cancer

CSULA chemistry major receives $1,000 Phi Kappa Phi Travel Award

Pictured: Sarah Gao.

With a focus on finding novel cancer treatments and developing nanoparticles that can efficiently direct drugs to tumor sites, CSULA’s chemistry major Sarah Gao has been conducting research in CSULA Professor Yong Ba’s laboratory on the anti-cancer effects of chlormabucil-tempol.

“Chlormabucil-tempol is a drug that our lab developed by modifying the pre-existing chemotherapeutic agent, chlorambucil,” explained Gao.

In her research, she documents the effects of chlorambucil and chlorambucil-tempol on two ovarian cancer cell lines: OVCAR5 and OVCAR5-CisR. According to Gao, “It shows that cell viabilities are much lower after treatment with chlorambucil-tempol than with chlorambucil.”

After finding that chlorambucil-tempol is much more effective than chlorambucil in preventing the proliferation of certain types of ovarian cancer cells, she said, “I am now concentrating my efforts in creating an effective drug delivery system by making nanoparticles than can carry high levels of chlorambucil-tempol and deliver it to tumor sites.”

Gao, who was recently presented this year’s Phi Kappa Phi Travel Award of $1,000, concluded, “This can serve to lower the possible side effects that follow chemotherapy and increase the efficacy of the drug.”

A Dean’s List student, Gao is a member of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club, the Early Entrance Program Club and the Cancer Awareness Club on campus. She hopes to apply to medical school upon completing her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at CSULA.

For her innovative research, she is also one of only 10 CSULA students selected to represent the University at the 25th Annual CSU Student Research Competition to be held at Fresno State University this May.

The CSU event each year follows the annual Cal State L.A. Symposium on Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity, which is organized by CSULA’s Office of Research and Development. The aim of the campus symposium is to encourage all Cal State L.A. students—undergraduate and graduate in every discipline—to showcase their papers, projects and research endeavors.

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