Sonya Anvar

Sonya Anvar

A different perspective on cancer research

Photo credit: Krystel V. Morin
Photo credit: Krystel V. Morin

Biology student Sonya Anvar looks into boosting the efficiency of cancer treatments

The race is on in the scientific community to discover new and more effective ways to treat cancer and better patients’ lives. But one Bishop’s student is hoping to explore an emerging trend in cancer research.

“I’m very interested in how we can use dietary and lifestyle changes to boost the efficiency of certain drugs, or even prevent certain diseases,” says Sonya Anvar, a 1st year Biology student and naturopath from Montreal’s North Shore.

Thanks to the B.E.S.T. Projects Fund, Sonya will be travelling to Milan, Italy, to do a
6-week internship at IFOM, a cancer research institute focused on the study of cancer formation and development at the molecular level. She will be working alongside scientists to determine how the efficiency of cancer drugs can be boosted.

“The research team is working with mice models that are water fasting, which means they are not eating for two days prior to receiving chemotherapy. They are seeing that the drug is more efficient while the mice are fasting, since healthy cells can protect themselves better from chemotherapy. It’s very interesting because we’re used to thinking that fasting would normally make things worse, but the research is showing that the contrary is happening,” she explains.

Sonya will be using this opportunity to see how she feels about doing research. “I’m thinking of doing a master’s degree after my time here, maybe even a PhD,” she says. “I’m hoping to get some hands-on experience working in a research lab, and this project is aligned with my goals for the future as a scientist.”

The project also brings Sonya one step closer to her ultimate goal: finding her purpose.

“I want to be a citizen that can participate in changing the world. I don’t feel comfortable just having a job; I feel I need to contribute. Being healthy is an integral part of being happy and living a full life. This is why helping people become disease-free gives my work purpose, and I want all parts in my life to be purposeful, especially my job.”

What is B.E.S.T. ?

This story focuses on a recipient of the B.E.S.T. Projects Fund. B.E.S.T. is the premiere experiential learning opportunity at Bishop’s University. In 2010, an anonymous Bishop’s graduate made a gift commitment to establish this opportunity fund at the university. This unique possibility is meant to assist students, determine their career paths and realize their ambitions. It also gives the student the chance to learn outside of the classroom.

The funds are awarded to students whom the Selection Committee believes have the potential for significant achievement and impact once they graduate from Bishop’s. Find out more information about B.E.S.T.