2014 CURE Intern: Aisha Kheir

Thirteen years ago, Asho "Aisha" Kheir and her family arrived in the United States, escaping civil war in their native Somalia. The family's transition in their new home was far from easy: the food, the people and the language was so foreign. Community organizations that served the needs of newcomers to Portland provided a good support system, and the Kheir family thrived during those early years because they cared deeply for one another.


One thing that Aisha's mother continuously emphasized was the value of doing well in school.  "My mother would remind my siblings and me that we were fortunate enough to receive an education," Aisha says.

This summer, Aisha is one of eight high school students participating in the highly selective Ted R. Lilley Continuing Umbrella of Research Education (CURE) Research Internship Program, administered by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and funded by the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

As a student at the Oregon Islamic Academy, Aisha is an exceptional student, lauded by her teachers for her hard work, positivity and eagerness to learn. She excels in all her subjects, and has her sights on becoming a medical doctor. "I am strongly interested in cancer research. Through researching and understanding cancer, doctors and researchers together make it easier for cancer patients to fight cancer," she says.  

At OHSU, Aisha is working with Rosalie Sears, Ph.D., in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics. Her research project focuses on understanding how expression of the oncoprotein, MYC in cancer cells changes in response to extracellular nutrients and growth factors.

Beyond her academic accomplishments at the Oregon Islamic Academy, Aisha also finds time to devote to giving back to the community. For the last couple of years, she has volunteered at the annual "Day of Dignity" devoted to providing basic services to people experiencing homelessness in Portland. She also is part of the Youth Ambassadors Club, which focuses on mentoring middle school and elementary students to participate in learning experiences that foster compassion, hope, and life skills for a foundation of selfless service. Among her favorite Youth Ambassadors Club projects is the "SW Hope: Feed the Hungry Campaign." Aisha and other ambassadors collected 1,559 pounds of food in the most recent campaign.

Interested in the CURE Program? Contact David Martinez for more information.


Posted July 3, 2014. Photo and write-up by Maileen Hamto.