Summer Internship Series: Journey on the Path to Find the Cure for Cancer

Neel Kejriwal ’18

National Cancer Institute

My name is Neel Kejriwal, I am a Biochemistry major and currently a senior. Over my summer I had the opportunity to work at one of the top cancer research labs in the country- NCI under the guidance of well renowned scientists from all around the world. It was a three-month experience where I spent the first few weeks shadowing and understanding the roles of the researchers in the field and then actually working on a research project. My project was interesting. It involved fixing and operating a digilab robot which could pipette up and down tumor cells and dispense them into 96 well plates in forms of microdroplets. This was created in a 4X4 array of drops. To these drops, drugs of different concentrations were added and using accurate imaging, the results were displayed. It was particularly fascinating, in my opinion to see how different fields of research played a vital role in studies primarily in the chemistry and biology fields, through modern innovations.

The robotics system I was working with was a sophisticated piece of equipment which was bought 2 years ago but was unused since it was very difficult to operate. I was given the task to understand the mechanism of operating it and perform the experiments. This was a very useful contribution to the national cancer institute since there is so much potential which microdroplets of cells could have with drug resistance. My results initially kept leading to errors but with constant observations, tweeks, and changes, I came up with a concrete protocol which matched my hypothesis.

In addition to the fantastic experience I had working for the organization, living on my own by renting a room in a single-family house gave me a perspective on independent living. My lab was in the middle of an army base called fort Detrick, so it was also really interesting to see the tight security and the safety precautions that was standardized in these government buildings.

Overall, my summer experience gave me a very broad experience on skills which would help me in my career into pharmacology and research and allowed me to have the exposure to work for a public based organization such as the national cancer institute. I have made some major contributions which might be published with more research and would help advance more innovations in science.