Armed with an undergraduate degree in cellular and molecular biology, Sana Khalili joined the USC College of Pharmacy to pursue her Ph.D. with an interest in cancer and genetics, working under the guidance of Phillip Buckhaults in the department of Drug Discovery & Biomedical Sciences.
Khalili received the opportunity to meet other researchers in her field when she was invited to present her research at the AACR-JCA Joint Conference: Breakthroughs in Cancer Research – Translating Knowledge into Practice, held in December 2022 in Maui, Hawaii, a joint conference between the American Association for Cancer Research and its Japanese counterpart.
Khalili’s work has focused on a colon cancer organoid.
“Ninety percent of cancers have a TP53 mutation,” she says. “Our lab is finding novel targets for treating TP53 mutant colon cancer. After graduation, I hope to continue this journey in research by going into the pharmacy industry to find targets for cancer drugs.”
Buckhaults notes that Khalili’s attention to detail is one reason for her success as a scientist and says she has been successful at something that many have tried but never before accomplished.
“Sana screened a genome-wide CRISPR library in a real human colon cancer organoid and has found novel targets for therapy,” he says. “Her results will be developed into novel therapies for cancer. It took a lot of technical work in the lab to figure out how to accomplish this.”
Khalili is grateful to Buckhaults for his support.
“His immense knowledge and experience encourage me in my Ph.D. journey,” she says. “He always empowers me to push past my limits.”
Khalili will again have the opportunity to present her work at the upcoming AACR Conference scheduled for April.