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Student Contributes to Team Effort

Charlie Kircher '07 from Biddeford, Maine, spends a lot of his time at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. He was looking for a laboratory experience during his first year at Dartmouth and spoke with some fellow students who worked there.

Kircher '07
Kircher '07 (photo by Joe Mehling '69)

"I was never very sure of where I wanted to work until I met some upperclass students who worked at the cancer center," Kircher says. "They spoke very highly of it, so I did a little bit of research and met Dr. Israel."

Kircher's time at the center is split between two research projects and basic lab maintenance. One project in Israel's lab involves a specific group of genes called Id, or inhibitor of differentiation. Kircher is helping Israel's team understand the role these genes play in how some kinds of cancer develop. His other project is in bioinformatics (see main story), where he analyzes genetic data from dozens of brain tumors using microarrays, which indicate the expression levels of tens of thousands of genes. His goal is to see if there is a correlation between gene expression and survival rates for patients with brain tumors.

"I like my job at the cancer center because it is always mentally stimulating," he says. "It's very rare when I leave work for the day having only learned one new thing."

Kircher also likes the camaraderie with the other lab members. "Dr. Israel has been very generous to me and has given me a wonderful opportunity. The senior researchers provide me with a lot of direction and have been very patient with me. The other students I work with are very engaging, intelligent people. It's wonderful to work in such a helpful environment."

Kircher wants to attend medical school and says his experience at the cancer center "has given me the opportunity to see many different paths that one can take before and after medical school."

By Susan Knapp

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Last Updated: 5/30/08