Ahmed AboHamad ’21 wins Harvard Stem Cell Institute internship award
Ahmed AboHamad ’21 was awarded the 2019 Nada Anzak Award for his work as a summer intern at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. The award, given in memory of a former HSCI intern, honors an outstanding intern who shows dedication to their work and contributes positively to the community.
A biological sciences and philosophy double major and scholar in the Public Health Pathway, AboHamad spent the summer conducting research at the Center for Stem Cell and Therapeutic Imaging Lab of the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. AboHamad was one of 35 undergraduate students from Harvard and 20 colleges and universities around the world to complete the 10-week program, through which interns gain research experience in a cutting-edge stem cell science laboratory and are exposed to different professional options through a stem cell seminar series, a career pathways presentation, and a weekly stem cell companion course.
AboHamad said he relished the opportunity to participate in research in one of the world’s most innovative medical research institutions.
“The Center for Stem Cell and Therapeutic Imaging (CSTI) has pioneered stem cells encapsulated in biodegradable, extracellular matrices as a delivery tool for targeted therapeutics of brain cancers. The CSTI is using oncolytic herpes simplex viruses (oHSV), which are engineered to replicate and selectively induce the death of tumor cells, as a potential treatment for glioblastoma, the most common primary malignant brain tumors in adults,” he said.
“The purpose of my summer project was enhancing the efficacy of oHSV by using it in conjunction with other antitumor modalities. The motive of my project was to test whether TGFB expression or inhibition could potentially enhance the oncolytic activity of oHSV.”
AboHamad presented his findings in August at HSCI’s 14th annual summer internship all-day research symposium, where it was announced that he was selected from his cohort of 35 interns to receive the 2019 Nada Anzak Award.
“I gained so much knowledge about stem cells, immunology and cancer biology, and I learned to design and conduct experiments in vitro and in vivo,” he said. “The experience helped me develop a lot of the skills that are essential for my future.”
AboHamad, who hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience, plans to complete independent studies with Connecticut College biology and neuroscience faculty during his junior and senior years and conduct additional research at another institution next summer.