Researcher, students study cell death in search for cancer cure

Filed in News & Events by January 14, 2016

An NDSU student is getting the chance to help find a cure for cancer. And all it took was an email to get his foot in the lab.

One of Joshua Krank’s first-year classes featured a guest speaker who researches cancer. Krank was so intrigued by the 10-minute talk that he emailed the assistant professor to find out if he could take part in the work. He got a reply immediately and now is an example of the type of undergraduate research NDSU students are involved in on a daily basis.

Krank works in John Wilkinson’s lab several days a week while taking classes full time for his biological sciences major and working a part-time job in the NDSU Residence Hall Association.

He does lab work discovering what proteins are present in a cell and manipulating the cell’s gene expression to vary the amount and types of proteins it produces. He also measures the amount of sugar cells consume. The data tell Krank and Wilkinson how the cells are functioning.

“In effect, I’ve learned how to conduct research,” Krank said. “Dr. Wilkinson lets us play an active role and learn from our occasional mistakes. That’s vital for my development and for those of the graduate students.”

They are studying the mechanisms behind the body’s natural and orderly cell death and creation. Wilkinson and his team of Krank and two graduate students are studying how the cellular suicide known as apoptosis contribute to the growth of cancer and other human diseases.

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