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Summer Internships: Fay Koyfman '24

July 26, 2023
Fay Koyfman standing in front of a house.

Name: Fay Koyfman
Class Year: 2024
Major: Chemistry and Russian
Hometown: Seattle, WA

Internship Organization: MD Anderson Cancer Center
Job Title: University Outreach Program
Location: Houston, TX

What's happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!

I have been working on leukemia research in the Andreeff lab at MD Anderson this summer. I have been specifically working on research for Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. This research works to target TP53 mutations which are very aggressive and have low response rates to current treatments. My research targets PLK4, an important protein that regulates the cell cycle, which TP53 usually suppresses if it becomes unregulated. I am working to do cell cycle analysis and co-treatments of drugs in various AML cell lines to see which treatments are the most effective. In addition to lab-based research, I have attended many lectures to learn more about other cancer research projects and careers in cancer research. I have also been grateful to network with like-minded peers, researchers, and physicians. I have been able to shadow doctors in the cancer clinic and see how the work I do in the lab directly impacts patient care.

AML cell lines with drugs in a sterile biosafety cabinet.
Treating AML cell lines with drugs in a sterile biosafety cabinet

Why did you apply for this internship?

I applied for this internship to explore my interests in scientific research and medicine. While at Bryn Mawr, I worked on research in the chemistry department and found it to be really enjoyable. I wanted to learn more if I saw myself doing this as a future career. My involvement in the Gift of Life Marrow Registry at BMC inspired my interest in leukemia research specifically. At Bryn Mawr, I educate and screen students to join this marrow registry which helps combat blood diseases and cancers. Since starting this marrow registry on campus, I have found six matches from students that have helped patients. I was excited that at MD Anderson I could combine both these interests.

Lab cell equipment
Preparing to count cells.

What has been your favorite part of this internship?

My favorite parts of this internship have been the resources, supplemental activities, and programs built into the program. I am doing research and working closely with a mentor, but this internship also has cancer biology boot camps, career panels, graduate school resource fairs, CPR courses, surgical dexterity competitions, medical conferences, and social gatherings. I have enjoyed how organized this program has been and the effort put into programs that would help strengthen students' interests in research and cancer medicine. As a rising senior deciding what to do after graduation, specifically whether I want to pursue MD, Ph.D., or both, I have especially appreciated shadowing all sorts of researchers and clinicians to see what that career is like.

Group photo in front of a stadium entrance.
Catching a Houston Astros game after work with fellow summer interns.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced at your internship?

The most challenging and rewarding part of this summer internship has been the independence and management of a research project. While I have been working in collaboration with a post-doc student in the lab, overall, I have the freedom to plan my experiments and decide the direction of my project. This was initially challenging because that seemed like a lot of responsibility for an intern with no experience in this kind of research. However, this challenge became exciting as I learned more about this research's goal and the techniques and experiments needed to accomplish this research. This research project was in its early stages, so in many ways, I felt like I was pioneering this kind of research. More importantly, all the research I have done has been independent, so it has been a rewarding feeling to have a project that is my own.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.

Chemistry Russian