HRP SU20-23: Research Opportunity with Dr. Henry Smilowitz

Project Mentor

Dr. Henry Smilowitz

Department of Cell Biology

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description Our laboratory in collaboration with a small biotech company, Nanoprobes, Inc. pioneered the use of heavy atom nanoparticles to enhance radiation therapy (RT) of tumors, with a focus on primary and metastatic brain tumors (Hainfeld et al., 2004). Our initial work used gold nanoparticles (Hainfeld et al. 2010, 2013). Our more recent work has been with well tolerated novel iodine nanoparticles (INPs) (Hainfeld et al., 2018, 2019). Current work in the lab is focused on 1. Improving INP-enhanced RT efficacy by tumor targeting of the INPs, 2. Studying the mechanism of INP-enhanced RT by A. Microlocalization of INPs in brain tumors, B. Quantification of double strand DNA breaks (DSBs) in tumor and non-tumor cells in the brain after RT. C. Combination of INP enhanced RT with chemotherapy, immunotherapy. Our lab also has a continuing interest in tumor dormancy and projects along those lines. For specific projects please come to talk with Dr. Smilowitz. For specific references to our published papers, please refer to our Cell Biology web site.
Project Direction Developing new and better therapies for primary and metastatic brain tumor patients is a major challenge. Heavy atom nanoparticle enhanced RT that we pioneered with Nanoprobes, Inc. is a very powerful tumor-specific radiation enhancing method–possibly the most powerful radiation enhancing method known that also appears to synergies with chemotherapy. Since RT is used to treat ~50% of all cancers, our new technology has the potential to significantly help many cancer patients. More work is needed to make INP-enhanced RT even better and to understand how INP-enhanced RT works so that rational improvements can be made.
Mentorship and Supervision The PI has an office in the lab and will be available most days, most of the time. A full time post-doc will be available full time. Progress is monitored in real time. We will discuss literature, have lab discussions, lab meetings on a regular basis. Continual monitoring of research results, data analysis, problems, trouble shooting, problem solving.
Student Qualifications Prefer students who have finished three years of undergraduate study, but open to considering all students with excellent academic records. Prefer students who have had some research experience, but prior experience is not a requirement. Prefer students with a facility for instrumentation–but open to those willing to learn. Prefer students who enter into the experience with the expectation that they will continue during the following academic year. For students who are juniors, prefer students who wish to continue research in their senior year leading to a senior thesis. Looking for highly motivated students willing to work hard and get integrated into the work going on in the lab by reading, thinking and coming up with ideas. Looking for students genuinely excited by the prospect of doing significant medically relevant research.
Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: May 26 to July 31, 2020
Schedule: M-F, 9am-5pm
Project Continuation Fall 2020, Spring 2021
Academic Year Time Commitment 9 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project Yes


Submit an online application for this research opportunity at The application deadline is Monday, February 3, 2020.

This application requires a cover letter, a resume or CV, an unofficial transcript, a brief statement of research interests, a brief statement of career interests, and contact information for references.