A presentation by Stony Brook senior Ruchi Shah received first place among all undergraduate and graduate students in the category Medicine and Public Health at the 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting. She was awarded for research on keratin 17 expression in cancer based on her work with pharmacology graduate student Luisa Escobar-Hoyos in the laboratory of Dr. Kenneth Shroyer, chair of Stony Brook’s Department of Pathology.
Shah, a biology major minoring in journalism, presented her project “Keratin 17 Maintains Proliferation by Binding p27KIP1 and Facilitating its Nuclear Export” at the AAAS meeting in Washington DC in February.
Shah has been working in the Shroyer lab to improve understanding of the mechanisms of cancer, focusing on the lab’s discovery that the intermediate filament keratin 17 (K17) can predict survival of early-stage and advanced-stage cancer patients. The lab is trying to uncover the mechanisms through which K17 makes cancer cells more aggressive. Research led by Escobar-Hoyos revealed that cytoplasmic K17 is able to enter the nucleus and promote the degradation of p27, a tumor suppressor.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Shroyer and Escobar-Hoyos, Shah’s award-winning project focuses on characterizing the interaction between nuclear K17 and p27 that results in cell-cycle progression using cervical cancer cells derived from patient cancer, biochemical methods and super-resolution microscopy. Their findings could represent a major contribution to the field of cancer biology and pathology because it opens up an entirely novel area of cancer research focused on the mechanistic roles of intermediate filament proteins in cancer progression.
Shah, a native of Ronkonkoma, NY, is in the highly selective Scholars for Medicine (BS/MD) program at Stony Brook. She invented an all-natural, low-cost mosquito repellent that has been recognized by Forbes, Intel ISEF and the AXA Achievement Award. Shah conducts cervical cancer research, was a fellow at the Jackson Laboratories and was selected by the American Association for Cancer Research as one of the top ten college cancer researchers. She developed her passion for science communication as a science columnist for The Statesman and as an intern at the World Science Festival, National Institutes of Health and FOX News Health. A 4.0 student, Ruchi is Stony Brook’s Homecoming Queen, has given a TEDxSBU talk and was invited as the youngest speaker at the inaugural Forbes Women’s Summit. She serves on the board of the Hindu Student’s Council, was a founding member of SBU Camp Kesem (a free summer camp for children impacted by a parent’s cancer) and is a student ambassador. Shah was recognized as one of the 22 under 22 most inspiring college women by Her Campus. She will be attending Stony Brook’s School of Medicine next year and is pursuing a career as a physician and medical correspondent.
As a sophomore, Ruchi Shah gave a TEDxSBU talk sharing her experiences as a young scientist.