Research at Washington University in St. Louis – Mattia Ficarelli

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This summer I traveled to St. Louis in center of the United States to work as an undergraduate researcher at Washington University in St. Louis for 9 weeks. I am a biochemistry student with particular interest in cancer biology, and working in the laboratory of Dr. Todd Druley, I had the incredible opportunity to carry out novel research on the genetics of infant leukemia.

During my time at Washington University I attended numerous journal clubs and symposiums on cancer biology, which in addition to be an important learning experience, helped me decide which specific area of cancer biology I am interested in. My project in the Druley lab involved using shRNA lentiviral vectors to silence genes involved in hematopoietic development and observing their effect in vitro as well as coming up with a protocol for using ddPCR to quantify lentiviral titers. Working as part of a larger research team has helped me decide that I want to continue my studying’s by pursing a PhD in cancer biology.

Outside the laboratory I explored the city extensively. I had initially been anxious about living in St. Louis due to the high levels of violent crime, but I found the city to be extremely welcoming. The city itself has a rich history of social and racial struggles, and it was enlightening experience to see how the city has involved as a result of them. St. Louis has some beautiful areas, namely Lafayette Park with its houses in Victorian style and Forrest Park, the largest park in the United States with its wonderful art museum. By the end of my time in St. Louis my initial view of St. Louis being a dangerous, crime-ridden city had been discarded, and I now view it as one of the most beautiful American cities offering something for everyone.

My time in St. Louis was unforgettable and rewarding on both a personal and academic level, and I would like to thank the Principles Go Abroad Fund for giving me this opportunity.


Washington University in St. Louis Medical School


Victorian Style houses surrounding Lafayette Park

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