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‹ Thesis Thursday

Thesis Thursday – Roxanne Vann

December 13, 2017
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My name is Roxanne Vann. I am a Junior at the University of Arizona majoring in Psychological Science and Pre-Medicine Bachelors of Science. Currently I’m an undergraduate researcher at the Arizona Cancer Center doing research in Dr. Sherry Chow’s Lab. My research is a Phase II Clinical Study of Metformin for Breast Cancer Prevention. I am from San Carlos, AZ located on the San Carlos Apache Tribe Reservation. I was born and raised on the Navajo and Apache Reservations. My Navajo clans are Naaneesht’ ézhi Tábąąhá (Zuni Water edge), Chíshí (San Carlos Apache), T ł ‘ááshchí’í (The Red Bottom People clan), and Bilagáana (Caucasian). My career goal is to become a physician practicing in OB/GYN or General Surgery. I plan to return to my reservation located in San Carlos, AZ. My goal is to serve my people with great dignity. I plan to give back to my Native American people, by giving them the best treatment and care that they deserve. I want to be a voice for my Native American people by being a good role model and setting a good example for the younger generation. I also would like to give hope to those that are chasing a dream to never give up on it and to keep going. Many of our Native Americans have lost hope in chasing a dream due to alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, suicide, early teen pregnancy and domestic violence. I want to give them inspiration of knowing that whatever hardships they may be facing in life that they can overcome obstacles, if they have faith and don’t stop trying.

In Dr. Sherry Chow’s lab, we are conducting a Phase II Clinical Study of Metformin for Breast Cancer Prevention with women who are premenopausal with a BMI ≥ 25 kg, have a higher breast density, and have metabolic abnormalities are at higher risk for postmenopausal breast cancer. Our lab is conducting a Phase II Clinical Trial to test the chemopreventive effects of metformin. The clinical trial begins with the recruitment of patients who meet the inclusion criteria. Metformin is an insulin-sensitizer drug used to treat type II diabetes, and previous research suggests that it could be beneficial in the prevention of breast cancer.  Patients are assigned to random permutated blocks to either a metformin group or a placebo group. The patients undergo a 6 to 12-month intervention and are monitored by FWR-MRI to measure the fat and water ratio by using MRI imaging to assess changes in breast density. Each patient also undergoes an optional core breast biopsy and then later examined under a microscope to observe the adipocytes of the tissue. Women having a higher BMI are prone to having inflamed adipocytes. Perspectives for this work are to provide clinical evidence of the chemopreventive activities of metformin in women with elements of metabolic syndrome at high-risk for postmenopausal breast cancer.

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