On Wednesday, January 8, GA senior Anisha Laumas was named a top 300 scholar in the 78th Regeneron Science Talent Search—the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors.
Anisha conducted her research on a project titled, "The Role of microRNA-34 in Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia" at the Yale University School of Medicine's Stem Cell Center. Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL) is a type of leukemia that mostly affects infants and is characterized, in part, by the presence of an abnormal protein called RM. Anisha investigated the interactions between RM and two other molecules crucial to healthy blood cell development. Her research, conducted over 12 weeks during the summer of 2018, revealed that in the presence of RM, the two molecules being studied interacted in new ways, confirming that these molecules have a role in the development of AMKL.
With the start of school in September, Anisha began the second phase of her research—to identify other molecules potentially involved in triggering AMKL. Drawing on her computer science background, she wrote a custom algorithm in the Python programming language to sift through existing data and identified more molecules that could be related to the cancer. This novel approach generated a list of genes to pursue for further study, and could potentially lead to new, effective treatment options for AMKL patients.
Of her research and being honored as a Regneron STS scholar, Anisha said the experience has: "Allowed me to form deeper connections with my research mentors both at school and in the lab, as well as realize how my individual project fits into a greater, collective effort to create new scientific knowledge."
As part of this recognition, Anisha will receive $2,000, and Greenwich Academy will also receive $2,000 to use toward STEM-related activities. Later this month, Regeneron will announce their list of 40 finalists, who will each receive $25,000 and are invited to Washington, DC for the final competition in March. The top prize for the most promising emerging STEM leader in the United States is $250,000.
Good luck, Anisha!