News at Medicine - March 2018 - ​Top honour for student cancer researcher


​Top honour for student cancer researcher
March 15, 2018
Third year undergraduate student Junbum (Kevin) Im researches DNA-mutating enzymes that cause and exacerbate cancers including lymphomas, breast, ovarian, lung cancers and melanomas. 
 

These enzymes work by mutating the DNA of cancer cells which causes cancers to become drug-resistant, therefore much harder to treat and more aggressive. 
 
Mr. Im, who works in Dr. Mani Larijani’s lab in the Faculty of Medicine, has recently been awarded the top award in Atlantic Canada for cancer research from the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute (BHCRI). The Faculty of Science student was the top-ranked candidate in the BHCRI Summer Studentship competition.
 
“With this award I will conduct research on understanding the structural and DNA-mutating characteristics of a specific member of this DNA-mutating family of enzymes, APOBEC3B, a prominent cause of genetic mutations in cancers,” Mr. Im explained. “Understanding the significance of different components of this enzyme to its function in cancer will pave the way for specific drug development.”
 
Mr. Im says the BHCRI studentship award is a great stepping stone towards his research career. “Conducting research in the Larijani lab which is well-recognized for their contributions to cancer research, has been an experience of a lifetime for me,” he said. “Receiving the first place undergraduate cancer research award in Atlantic Canada was academically rewarding and a great honor. More importantly and personally, it lets us know that the incredibly courageous people affected with cancer and those  who put in so much work to raise these funds for cancer research put their trust and faith in our research and mission.”
 
Mr. Im’s award, which will be funded by the Gale Force Girls and Company Studentship, is worth $5,000. The Gale Force Girls & Co. team was formed in 2014 in honour of a woman named Gale, who was fighting a rare form of cancer. The team has raised over $24,000 in support of the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute. Sadly, Gale passed away in September 2017 but her legacy will live on through Gale Force Girls & Co. awards presented to talented, young cancer researchers through the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute.
 
Photo: Junbum Im with his supervisor Dr. Mani Larijani with an APOBEC3B model shown on the screen.