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Thu “Kim” Le interns with Benaroya Research Institute, doing cancer research from home

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Thu Le ’21, Biochemistry major photographed in Rieke Science Center

Image: The Le ’21, Biochemistry major photographed in Rieke Science Center, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, at PLU. The Le spent the summer as the Benaroya Bioinformatics Research inter at Virgina Mason, Seattle. (PLU Photo/John Froschauer)

September 17, 2020
By By Rosemary Bennett '21
Marketing & Communications

As the pandemic has progressed many of found ourselves thinking more about health and disease, however, Thu “Kim” Le ‘21 has spent most of her college career researching these topics.

Le recently completed a six-week summer internship with the Benaroya Research Institute (BRI) at Virginia Mason, where she analyzed data isolated from the cells cancer patients.

While the internship typically involves more hands-on lab experience due to the pandemic Thu and other interns are working remotely analyzing data and looking for red flags in the cell information, with the goal of helping scientists develop a stronger understanding of how cancer patients respond to new immunotherapies.

“I have some background in biochemistry but the internship was something completely different then what I’m used to at PLU because there is such a heavy focus on immunology I have learned so much.”

“BRI has the goal of teaching the next generation of scientists and I’m so happy to be involved in that,” said Le.

Le developed an interest in medical research after losing her grandfather to cancer and would like to become a pathologist and help families affected by cancer.

The internship also gave Le the opportunity to work daily with her mentors, Bioinformatics project leader Dr. Hannah DeBerg and Bioinformatician Dr. Mario Rosasco.

“They are excellent, they challenge me every day to think critically, and I’m happy to get to work with them and receive that guidance, especially because we are working remotely,” said Le.

The internship concluded with a chance for the internship students to present their research and results to the scientists of BRI. “I had a chance to practice our communication skills and imagined we were professional scientists, It really helped me build skills that will be necessary for my career,” Le said.

After graduation, Le plans on pursuing a graduate degree and applying for more work in medical research to continue developing the valuable skills she learned over internship and her time at PLU.