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Cancer Research from Mount Union Senior Selected for Spotlight Presentation at National Conference

February 02, 2021

ROCKVILLE, Maryland — Research done by Sarah Turley ’21, a biochemistry major of Sagamore Hills, Ohio, was chosen for a spotlight presentation at the Experimental Biology (EB) conference in April.

Turley’s submitted abstract titled, “The Effects of Acidic pH on Macrophage Phagocytosis and Tumor Lysate Response” will be part of the Immune Signaling session of EB’s four-day virtual program.

“My research is in the field of cancer immunotherapy, specifically understanding how cancer has the ability to redirect our immune system,” Turley said. “My project involves immune cells called macrophages, which are responsible for getting rid of the cancer, and seeing what effect the acidic pH has on them. My senior year, I started conducting trials with the cells and have been getting some promising data that might contribute to the scientific community’s understanding of cancer as a whole and how we can treat it with our own immune system.”

Turley conducts these trials in collaboration with her advisor, Dr. Keith Miller, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. She notes that even in her second year on campus, she was growing various strains of human and mouse cancer cells with Miller for future analysis, something not found on many campuses the size of Mount Union.

“Where Sarah’s skill sets have really shown is in her lab research. I am fortunate to have her in my lab as she is willing to take the initiative and make things happen,” Miller said. “She carefully observes and asks thoughtful questions to improve the experimental design and her technique. She quickly learned how to do tissue culture for macrophages, and I fully trust her to complete her own independent research without my constant supervision.” 

“The field of cancer therapy is one that is evolving every day, and being a part of that realm is so exciting for an undergraduate student,” Turley said. “Research is how, I hope one day, I can make a difference for those struggling with this tragic illness.”

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