Summer Centered: Sarah Waldis '16 Researches Pediatric Blood Disorders And Cancers
The biology major is working in a hematology lab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for the second summer in a row.
Biology major Sarah Waldis '16 is conducting research for Dr. Stella Chou and Dr. Marisol Betensky at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) this summer thanks to funding from the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center. The doctors are studying pediatric blood disorders and cancers, specifically a gene named GATA-1, which may create a predisposition to leukemia in children with Down syndrome.
"This research has important implications for elucidating key pathways of blood development," says Waldis, "as well as advancing new tools and techniques for studying blood diseases."
Waldis, who has worked in Chou's lab for two summers now, credits Haverford's biology department with preparing her for this research. "[M]ore than any tangible scientific techniques or concepts Haverford has taught me how to think critically and curiously," she says. "I had no background knowledge on hematological research prior to last summer, but I have found that Haverford has prepared me to seek out the information I need and connect it with the foundational knowledge I have gained from my courses."
Over the last two summers in the CHOP lab, Waldis has seen every part of the scientific process from planning an experiment to analyzing the results. While she may not focus on the same subject for her senior thesis, which she will complete next year in Professor Rachel Hoang's lab, she knows that the skills she has gained at CHOP will serve her well.
"I have known for a while that I want to pursue medical school after Haverford and eventually become a pediatrician, and my internship at CHOP has strongly confirmed this for me while also definitely sparking my interest in hematology," says Waldis.
—Jack Hasler '15
"Summer Centered" is a series exploring our students' Center-funded summer work.