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Students Present Research in D.C.

Biology students Jive Jacob, and Subah Soni presented their research on the effects of manuka essential oil on the viability of cancer cells at the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in December.

Soni and Jacob began this project while enrolled in the 2018 Summer Research Program under the supervision of Biology Department Chair, Dr. Dorothy Lobo. The project was an extension of work being conducted in the laboratory of James Mack, Ed.D., Professor of Biology, who had been analyzing the anti-bacterial properties of several essential oils.

“Dr. Mack gave us a list of all of the essential oils he works with in his lab where he tests their effects on different bacteria species,” said Soni. “From this list, we looked up which oils had or had not been used in previous studies dealing with cancer cells.”

Soni continued, “There are not many studies on Manuka oil and its effects on cancer cell lines, and after further research on Manuka oil we discovered that it has many properties that work to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.”

Manuka essential oil is found in a variety of skincare products, and has known anti-inflammatory properties, but the effects of this oil on specific cancer cells has not been made clear. Jacob and Soni’s work shows that manuka oil decreases the proliferation and viability of two different cancer cell lines (HT-1080 fibrosarcoma cells and HeLa cervical adenocarcinoma cells) and normal fibroblast cells.

“I was so excited to have the opportunity to go to the ASCB conference in Washington D. C.,” said Soni. “To be surrounded by so many experts in my field, all having intellectual conversations about their individual research projects was really eye-opening and definitely reassured me that I was in the field I was meant to be in.”

“All throughout college I have always enjoyed my biology classes the most, so I’m glad that I chose a field that I enjoy learning and putting to practice,” she explained. “I aspire to go to medical school and become a physician after Monmouth, so having the opportunity to work with human cells and tissue was what really interested me about this project.”

Jacob attended the meeting based on receiving an undergraduate travel award which was evaluated on the quality of research submitted, a resume, and recommendation letters from research advisors.

The award was sponsored by the ASCB (American Society for Cell Biology) and was open to undergraduate students performing research in cell biology.

Following graduation, both Jacob and Soni aspire to continue their education in either graduate or professional school.