University of Virginia, Class of 2020
Testing the Treatment Effect of Focused Ultrasound (Cavitation) on Enhancing Host Antitumor Immune Response
This project applies classification and clustering models in machine learning to find cell types that demonstrate a significant difference among treatments. With these models, we can test if a combined treatment of focused ultrasound and immune checkpoint inhibitors can better treat cancer than a single treatment.
The primary goal of this project was the application of multiple statistical models to analyze the Foundation’s experimental data. The secondary goal was to automate the data cleaning and analytic process and make it accessible for use by the whole focused ultrasound community.
The statistical models suggest that a few cell types are affected by the different treatments applied, and the combined treatment with focused ultrasound (cavitation) and immune checkpoint inhibitors may affect the intratumoral immune cells population. I also created an R package that complies with all the functions to automate the data analytic process.
Why were you initially interested in working with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation?
I am passionate about medical research, and this internship offered an ideal opportunity for me to learn about focused ultrasound technology and improve my statistical modeling skills.
Share some thoughts on your experience as an intern at the Foundation.
Although I worked virtually throughout the entire internship, I was fully engaged with the Foundation and my supervisors through weekly meetings, webinars, and routine discussions. I would say this was one of my best work experiences.
Overall, the internship experience was thoroughly satisfying for me. The Foundation staff was very responsive whenever I encountered a problem. I appreciate everyone’s effort to make this internship experience the best that it could be. I have yet to come up with anything that could have been improved. I just wish that I had had the chance to meet these lovely people in person.
How will your accomplishments impact the field of focused ultrasound?
My summer internship was directed by Prof. Frederic Padilla at the Foundation and Prof. Tianxi Li in the Department of Statistics at the University of Virginia. My summer project results will be included in a paper that is expected to be published, which I hope will promote the use of focused ultrasound for treating cancer.
What is one tip that you would give 2021 summer interns?
The Foundation is a great place to work, and don’t hesitate to ask the staff whenever you have a question.