How healthy cells might help cancer survive


Dying cancer cell thumbnail
Cancer researcher Mikala Egeblad aims to make cancer-fighting drugs more effective by preventing healthy cells from helping the enemy survive.

The glowing, wriggling blobs in the movie above are a mixture of healthy and cancerous cells. It happens quickly, but what you’re watching suggests that cancer cells may trick a patient’s healthy cells into helping the cancer cells survive.

The battlegrounds of the war on cancer—the landscape of healthy cells and molecules that make up the tumor’s “microenvironment”—sometimes fade to the background in cancer research. But CSHL Associate Professor Mikala Egeblad and her team have been making movies that show there’s quite a bit of action happening between cancer cells and healthy cells.

“I think it’s important to know that the microenvironment can determine how cancer cells respond to therapy, and it is interspersed within the tumor cells,” Egeblad says, explaining that, “it’s not just sort the border region around the tumor. You find these non-cancerous host cells in between the cancer cells.” Continue reading

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Partners Profile: High School Senior Tamanna Bhatia on becoming a scientist

The young scientists in CSHL’s Partners for the Future Program have a real impact—not only by conducting research in the lab, but also by inspiring the people they meet. This post comes to us from CSHL Human Resources Assistant Marygrace Navarra.

This year's amazing Partners for the Future. Top, from left to right: Christopher Tapia, Joseph Boroda, Trevor Jones, Scott Kriesberg Bottom, from left to right: Sarah Lee, Kristin Schmidt, Tamanna Bhatia, Hanna Hong, Sabrina Qi, Vanessa Yu, Cailey Brogan, Dana Galgano Not pictured: Suraj Muralidharan, Julian Ubriaco

This year’s amazing Partners for the Future: Top, from left to right: Christopher Tapia, Joseph Boroda, Trevor Jones, Scott Kriesberg | Bottom, from left to right: Sarah Lee, Kristin Schmidt, Tamanna Bhatia, Hanna Hong, Sabrina Qi, Vanessa Yu, Cailey Brogan, Dana Galgano | Not pictured: Suraj Muralidharan, Julian Ubriaco

When 18-year-old Tamanna Bhatia came to the Human Resources office at CSHL to hand in some paperwork, she mentioned she had some time to kill before her ride arrived. Wanting to give her a warm welcome, I showed her where the Blackford Bar was and cracked a lame joke about how she couldn’t order an alcoholic drink.

Tamanna is sweet – she let me bring her to the campus bar and thanked me for showing her around – but I realized on the way back that she probably didn’t need me to show her much of anything. She was comfortable at the Lab. She already felt that she was a part of it.

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A New Way to Fear: Lady Lab Rats Raise Important Questions for Behavioral Research [VIDEO]

Not all lab rats, it seems, are created equal. When Tina Gruene of Northeastern University’s Shansky Lab noticed that her female rat subjects often reacted very differently than males to conditioned fear, she knew she’d stumbled upon a very important quandary.

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Solving the Problem with Penicillin

In honor of esteemed former CSHL Director Milislav Demerec’s birthday, a look at how science stepped up during World War II

The Penicillium fungus, from which penicillin is derived. Credit: AJ Cann | Flickr

The Penicillium fungus, from which penicillin is derived.
Credit: AJ Cann | Flickr

In an age when antibiotics are about as ubiquitous as candy and given out nearly as freely, it can be difficult to imagine a time when they were so precious that they were specially flown across the Atlantic Ocean in a plane with blacked-out windows. But that is just what happened during World War II, when producing adequate quantities of the new “wonder drug” penicillin was an international priority for scientific research.

What awaited the penicillin samples on the other side was America, its research institutions, and, significantly, a scientist named Milislav Demerec, the director of a Laboratory run by the Carnegie Institution of Washington which would later become Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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5th Graders Spend a Day as Young Scientists


…and it was “the best trip ever.”
2015 WSS 5TH GRADE CSHL A tiny amoeba crawling across a microscope slide is much more likely to grab kids’ attention than a lecture on single-celled organisms. Any science teacher knows that a hands-on demonstration like setting up a microscope or dissecting an earthworm is the most surefire way to engage kids in learning about science. But how do you teach students what it means to be a scientist?

DSC_0233Teachers at West Side Elementary School in Long Island decided to do this by immersing their 5th grade students in the world of the leading scientists conducting research just a mile from their school. They were just here on our campus — more than fifty 5th graders who got a peek at what motivates CSHL scientists to do research. And those of us who work here at the Lab got to meet some truly impressive young people.

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DNA Justice – How The Courtroom Can Learn From Science

With no criminal record, Marvin Lamont Anderson had dreams of being a firefighter – dreams brutally dashed the moment he was pointed out in a police line-up.

“My God, she picked me,” he said to the first investigator who entered the room.

Tears streamed down Anderson’s face and onto the Hanover County station floor. At only 18, he was labeled a rapist and sentenced to 210 years in prison. The year was 1982.

Marvin Anderson was just another promising young man: A high school graduate with a good head on his shoulders and dreams of being a firefighter.

Marvin Anderson was just another promising young man: A high school graduate with a good head on his shoulders and dreams of being a firefighter. Photos: The Innocence Project

Six long years later, John Otis Lincoln showed up in a Virginia court to confess that he was the one who raped the petite blond woman who had mistakenly identified Anderson as her attacker. Some said that Lincoln’s conscience must have finally caught up to him.

That should have meant that Anderson would soon reclaim his freedom. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Continue reading

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High School Students Support Pancreatic Cancer Research in a Big Way

Team Acing Cancer, consisting of high school students from the Locust Valley Central School district pose just before the Long Island Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk. The team raised just over $3,500 to further important research done at CSHL.
Team ‘Acing Cancer,’ consisting of high school students from the Locust Valley Central School district pose just before the Long Island Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk. The team raised just over $3,500 to further important research done at CSHL.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has its fair share of donors – amazing people looking to further the efforts of our labs and the science that’s done there. However, rarely can any one lab say that it has four-figure donors who are still in high school.

That’s what makes Molly Friedman and Abigail Linnemeyer so special. While most high school seniors were worrying about homecoming and what to be for Halloween, this pair committed themselves to recruiting family, friends, and teammates to walk at this year’s Long Island Pancreatic Cancer Research Walk.

The Walk to Cure Pancreatic Cancer - The Lustgarten Foundation

The Walk to Cure Pancreatic Cancer – The Lustgarten Foundation

The walk, which took place on Jones Beach on Oct 11, was a fitting prequel for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Day – a time dedicated to informing people about the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, and the deadliest among common major cancers. Continue reading

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Movember: Fighting for Health in the Lab and the Gym

Even considering that he’s faced pro fighters while training in jiu-jitsu, prostate cancer is by far Dawid Nowak’s most formidable opponent. In the lab of Lloyd Trotman, he’s using an incredibly powerful new genetic engineering tool and an extremely sensitive sequencing technique to take prostate cancer down.

Photo: Nowak at his promotion to blue belt in 2013. From left to right, Nick Safar, Nick Serra, David Nowak, Mike Piccolomini, Matt Serra.

Photo: Nowak at his promotion to blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2013. From left to right, Nick Safar, Nick Serra, Dawid Nowak, Mike Piccolomini, Matt Serra.

In a fight, strategy sometimes proves stronger than brute force. As a novice practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu in a gym with pro fighters, Dawid Nowak has learned that being a big guy isn’t enough to take down an opponent who is small but incredibly shrewd. As a postdoc in prostate cancer researcher Lloyd Trotman’s lab, he faces a very small and extremely shrewd opponent.

“I always think in terms of strategies: what is your next move? You start to think about cancer as your opponent and try to predict its next mutation,” Nowak says.

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Breast Cancer Survivors Show Camila dos Santos What’s Important About Her Research

Assistant Professor Camila dos Santos (left) and Senior Fellow Olga Anczuków-Camarda (right) get together with breast cancer survivor ______ (center) earlier this fall to talk about breast cancer research. Dos Santos regularly meets with survivors to hear their perspectives on the problem of breast cancer.

Assistant Professor Camila dos Santos (left) and Senior Fellow Olga Anczuków-Camarda (right) get together with breast cancer survivor Joanne Marquardt (center) of the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition earlier this fall to talk about breast cancer research. Dos Santos regularly meets with survivors to hear their perspectives on the problem of breast cancer.

Biology has always felt personal to Assistant Professor Camila dos Santos. Looking back on high school biology in her native Brazil, she remembers, “it was just so interesting to me that there was a field of research that makes you understand how your body works.” 

Gaining a deeper understanding of how the body works remains central to her research today—a somewhat unusual perspective for a breast cancer researcher. Rather than studying bodies broken by breast cancer and working backward, she is studying bodies with breasts that are still working properly.

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Breaking down breast cancer at CSHL

HelixRibbon-blog

Breast cancer awareness is important, but it’s action that saves lives. Whether developing more accurate and affordable tests for patients or mapping out the treacherous landscape of breast cancer genetics, researchers at CSHL certainly aren’t putting the fight on pause even as the pink ribbons dissipate. Explore how they’re attacking breast cancer from an array of innovative angles.

HousesKnowing the Neighborhood

Treating breast cancer isn’t just about battling “bad” cells. Part of the challenge is understanding how the “home” that cancer cells make can affect the course of the illness. Each patient, each tumor, is different. Mikala Egeblad’s lab at CSHL uses advanced imaging technologies to watch tumors interact with neighboring healthy cells (and drug-treated cells) in real-time.

See the video!

 In time-lapse microscopy, myeloid cells (green) are shown infiltrating an area of massive cell death (red) in a mouse treated with the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin.

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