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Timothy Davis '18, Biology Alumnus

My formal job title is "Research Assistant I".  I am a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Sattva Neelapu in the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas.  I am researching CAR T-cell Therapy, which is a type of immunotherapy where you take the patient's own T-cells and change them to be able to recognize the lymphoma. 

Every class that I have taken in the biology department has helped me by either directly giving me experience with specific techniques, or indirectly by increasing my general knowledge and awareness of what is actually going on in the lab. 

Timothy Davis 18 Biology AlumnusTechniques and information I have learned in Cell and Developmental biology with Dr. Thom have really helped me, as I am currently culturing several different human cell lines (mostly T-cells). What I learned in Micro with Dr. Koo has helped me in culturing E. coli for plasmid cloning.  Also, since we are studying T and B cells, what I learned in the immunology portion of Micro allows me to understand some of the more esoteric terms and concepts talked about in lab meetings such as IL2, CD8 vs CD4, TCR, MHCI or MHCII.

Likewise, a lot of what I learned in Dr. Busch's Anatomy & Physiology classes has come in handy, particularly for understanding how various systems of the body would be affected by our treatment such as what side effects the treatment will have. 

I am constantly using what I learned in Dr. Scott's Genetics class and Dr. Koo's Bioinformatics class, as one of my projects involves using CRISPR cas9 to knockout a particular gene. So I am regularly going to NCBI and downloading sequences, designing plasmids, constructing guide RNA sequences, or forward and reverse primers.

I have also found my knowledge of ecology and research experience in Dr. Page's lab is quite helpful, as one of our goals is to modify the tumor micro environment to allow for better and more controlled CAR T-cell growth.  Who knew that ecology affects diseases ;).

Finally literally everything I learned in BIOL 252 is useful, as my job is literally 'research methods' eight hours a day 5 days a week.

More and more I am appreciating how my Wheaton education (specifically in the Biology department) has really prepared me for this job.