Edna Amoah

Edna Amoah

Edna Amoah is a fourth-year Pre-Medicine and Neuroscience student from Colombes, France, who worked in a biochemistry research laboratory at Université de Sherbrooke on a project examining the role of reovirus in cancer treatments.

With a profound interest in both medical school and scientific research, Edna was eager for the opportunity to work in a research setting to explore this potential career path in more depth and to hone her research skills. She initially planned to work on the human strain of papillomavirus, studying the proteins that impact cells and lead to the development of cervical cancer. But following meetings in the lab and discussions with her supervisor, Dr. Martin Bisaillon, Edna instead focused her interest on reoviruses.

“Reoviruses are highly stable, double-stranded RNA viruses. They are a potential factor in cancer treatment because reoviruses have what is called an oncolytic activity, meaning their activity can actually modulate cancer cells and attack them instead of healthy cells,” explains Edna.

The goal of the project was to observe how the reovirus could modulate the alternative splicing process of a cell, indirectly leading to the death of cancer cells. Edna was able to perform manipulations at a cellular, structural and molecular biology level, leading to a greater understanding of the techniques used in teaching labs.

Edna explains that the internship allowed her to exercise both autonomy and leadership; she worked independently, with guidance from her supervisor and other students in the lab when needed, but she also had the opportunity to work with other young interns and help them with their projects.

What Edna valued most from her time in the Dr. Bisaillon’s lab was learning how critical motivation and perseverance are to research. “Science research is difficult and slow, and not all experiments are a success the first time. Some experiments are harder to manipulate and take a lot of time – but by persevering and changing many conditions in my original experiment, I learned from my mistakes and progress towards succeeding and finding new results.”

As Edna sees it, many students may have an idea of what scientific research looks like – that is, until they get to work in a laboratory themselves! Despite the challenges (as she says, “research takes a lot of time”), Edna recognizes the value in a project like hers not only for students who already have some research experience and would enjoy the challenge of working in an active lab, but also for those without a specific field or area of study in mind who want to gain insight into the research process itself. In Edna’s case, the opportunity for hands-on lab work was beneficial as she continued to reflect on whether research is her desired career path.