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HSIP 2012 Program

HSIP 2012 Group

2012 HSIP Interns (Clockwise from Left: Nathan How, Keiler Totz, Madison Graf and Alli Jussila)

Development of immunohistochemistry tools for the research laboratory - Lead by Researcher Katy Milne

The main aim of this project is to develop immunohistochemical procedures for formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded mouse tissues used in a variety of projects at the Trev and Joyce Deeley Research Centre.

 Like the work of the students before them, the contributions of the HSIP 2012 interns will help enrich many projects at the Deeley Research Centre that require immunohistochemical analysis.  Specifically the students first determined which in-house antibodies commonly used for our human studies would also work on mouse tissue, then they developed techniques to stain these antibodies reliably on mouse tissue.  This involved building a tissue microarray (TMA) by sectioning slides from various mouse tissues, performing hematoxylin and eosin staining then selecting regions of interest to core and construct the TMA from.   Once they had single colour protocols working, they began to look at multicolour IHC on mouse tissue.   They also performed literature and supplier searches to suggest antibodies to common targets that may be of interest to our researchers.

 In addition to developing protocols, the students also analyzed different components of the protocols to determine the most reliable, cost-effective method for use in the lab. They also performed other histology work as they would if they were working in a regular histology lab, learning about different techniques and the important role that histology plays in cancer diagnosis and research. They were encouraged to become familiar with tissues and tumours at the microscopic level and learned to recognize and distinguish different samples.  They were also involved in other areas of lab maintenance including assisting with maintaining safety and inventory records and in small projects designed to help maintain an efficient laboratory.


What is the role of the inflammatory cytokine IL-8 in breast cancer? - Lead by Researchers Dr. Jill Murray & Nathan West

 In the summer of 2012 Madison Graf, a Cedar High School student, and Nathan How, a Mount Doug High School student, joined Dr. Peter Watson’s lab at the BC Cancer Agency Deeley Research Centre and spent the summer studying the role of inflammation in breast cancer.  Madison and Nathan worked closely with Dr. Nathan West and Dr. Jill Murray, two members of the Watson lab.  Madison and Nathan’s project specifically addressed the observation that the inflammation-associated protein IL-8 is associated with estrogen receptor negative breast cancer.  From this observation and based on previous work by Nathan West, we hypothesized that IL-8 stimulation resulted in lowering of the estrogen receptor level in breast cancer cells.   With great enthusiasm and effort, Madison and Nathan worked together to learn new molecular biology skills (including cDNA synthesis, semi-quantitative PCR, gel electrophoresis, quantitative PCR and Westerns) and use them to study the effect of IL-8 on the estrogen receptor.  The initial observations that Madison and Nathan made over the summer suggest that IL-8 may affect estrogen receptor levels in breast cancer cells. It was a great start and the Watson lab is continuing work on this project. 

Meet the Interns

  Nathan How

Nathan E How – Mt. Douglas High School


Detailed analysis of work and/or research interest: I will be assisting Posdoctoral fellow Jill Murray and Graduate student Nathan West. Our project focusses on examining what effect (if any) the cytokine Interleukine-8 (IL-8) has on the estrogen receptor status of breast cancer tissues. Nathan West's doctoral work has shown that OSM (another immune system cytokine) promotes a decrease in estrogen receptor prevalence and so we are keen to see if IL-8 has a similar effect.


  Madison Graf

Madison M Graf – Cedar Community Secondary School


As one of the DRC’s high school interns, I will be working on a project that focuses on determining if IL8, a chemokine, plays a role in changing estrogen receptor positive breast tumours into estrogen receptor negative tumours.  For the duration of my project, I will be under the supervision of Dr. Jill Murray and Dr. Nathan West.  I look forward to learning more and more about the techniques used regularly in research as well as about cancer itself.



   Keiler Totz

Keiler J Totz – St. Michaels University School


This summer I will be working under the supervision of Katy Milne in the Histology department to test the reactivity of different immune cell antigen specific antibodies on mouse tissue. While working on this immunohistochemistry project, I will have the chance to develop new single, double, and triple IHC staining protocols for the mouse tissue reactive antibodies and also use the new Nuance Multispectral Imaging System to analyse the quality of the stained slides that I create throughout the internship. I am looking forward to an amazing summer in the lab! 


 Alli Jussila Allison J Jussila – Dover Bay Secondary School


 I will be working under the direction of Researcher Katy Milne on a histology project this summer.  My work at the DRC will consist of finding testing a variety of mouse antibodies that could be of use to other projects in the future.  Further, my work will also consist of staining slides through multicolor immunohistochemistry, and attempting to achieve five different stains on the same slide. I am looking forward to learning a ton as I work through this awesome project!