Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Wenxuan Cheng

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2022

Project Title: Investigating Effects of Activin A on mTOR Signaling and Autophagy in Colorectal Cancer

Project Description: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is currently a significant public health challenge in the United States. Activin A is a critical regulator of CRC cell proliferation and high tumor expression of activin A is associated with poor prognosis in patients with advanced CRC. The effects of activin A on mTOR signaling and autophagy in colorectal cancer cells have not yet been explored. Our hypothesis is that activin A signaling is upregulated in CRC cells, leading to decreased expression of mTOR, which in turn leads to increased autophagic activity. Our research may provide more effective treatment options for developing targeted therapies for CRC patients with fewer side effects.

What have you learned throughout your research project? 

Patience, resilience and a supportive environment are just as important in research as lab techniques.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

Don’t be anxious about what hasn’t happened yet.