University cancer research wins prize

Undergraduate places third at American Association for Cancer Research poster competition

4/24/2014 - By: Annie Conway
Ma Biochemistry Professor Ron Pardini, University of Nevada, Reno undergraduate student Erika Vicente and biochemistry major Irvin Ma proudly stand in front of their research poster presented at the American Association for Cancer Research poster competition this month. Ma received third place for his research with Omega-3 fatty acids and its effects on inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Photo courtesy of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Researchers from more than 100 prestigious institutions gathered at the 105th American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in April. University of Nevada, Reno undergraduate student, Irvin Ma, placed third in the event's poster competition which showcased cancer research conducted at universities across the United States.

Ma is a third-year biochemistry student whose research project looked at nutrition in cancer by studying how Omega-3, a fatty acid found in fish oils, can inhibit cancer growth. He has conducted his research with undergraduate student, Erika Vicente, who both worked under the guidance of Ron Pardini, biochemistry professor in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, and Michael Mouradian, a University of Nevada, Reno postdoctoral researcher who has recently started a job at Medical College of Wisconsin.  

"It has been my pleasure to mentor Irvin," Pardini, said. "He has grown into an outstanding scientist and a dedicated researcher. His success at the competition underscores the value of undergraduate research as a part of the educational experience at the University of Nevada, Reno and Irvin's commitment to research and education."  

Ma attended the annual meeting with Pardini and Vicente. During the competition, they proposed a mechanism to how DHA, the most potent Omega-3, can inhibit cancer growth as demonstrated in their experiences with it on different cancer cells such as breast cancer. This information was presented to five judges from the American Association for Cancer Research and followed up with questions from the judges. The third-prize recognition is a culmination of the research Ma conducted under the guidance of Pardini and Mouradian during the past three years.  

"I was happy that I was able to make Pardini and Mouradian proud," Ma said.  

The competition was held in San Diego, Calif., April 5-9, and was attended by more than 18,000 cancer researchers and experts from around the world. Researchers from institutions such Yale University, the Mayo Clinic, Dartmouth College, Duke University and many more shared their research and competed in the poster competition.  

"It felt good to see that the University of Nevada, Reno can stand up with these top notch schools," Ma said. "It was a great experience and I owe my success to Pardini and Mouradian."  

Ma hopes to attend the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting next year in Philadelphia, Penn., and plans to attend medical school after graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno next spring.  


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