2014 CURE Intern: Anayanci De Paz

DePaz_Anayaci_1_150Anayanci De Paz knows the value of determination, hard work, and persistence in helping achieve her goals.

Although Anayanci's mother – an immigrant from El Salvador – was never in a position to earn a college degree, she emphasized the importance of education in realizing life goals. For a time, Anayanci lived with her grandparents, following the separation of her mother and father. The family had the opportunity to own their home through Habitat for Humanity, a program that underscores self-sufficiency through affordable homeownership.

Anayanci attended Roosevelt High School, which serves economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in North Portland. Despite many personal and family transitions, she managed to earn all A's during her freshman year.  Through a competitive program offered by Minds Matter, Anayanci transferred to Catlin Gabel School on a full-ride scholarship.

"I have been ridiculously lucky with all the opportunities presented to me considering my economic and social circumstances. I am able to take new science classes such as Pathogens & Parasites and Ornithology. I am also signed up to go to Chile and Argentina for spring break to learn about the past dictatorship in those countries," she says.

Anayanci joins seven other high school students from the Portland area chosen to be part of the 2014 cohort of the Ted R. Lilley Continuing Umbrella of Research Education (CURE) Internship Program. The program is administered by the OHSU Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and funded by the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. At OHSU, Anayanci is working with Xiaolin Nan, Ph.D., in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her research project focuses on confirming the theory that the Rat sarcoma (Ras) protein dimerization leads to the cascade of protein signaling, which concludes with the extracellular signal-regulated kinases (Erk) protein communicating to the cell to conduct a given function.

Anayanci is not new to OHSU's student pipeline programs: she has participated in the Partnership of Scientific Inquiry program, which allowed her to study Parkinson's Disease. She also had the opportunity to shadow at OHSU's Vollum Institute and learn about the effects of cocaine on the brain.

As part of the CURE program, she is thrilled about the opportunity to gain hands-on research skills in Dr. Nan's laboratory.

"I am excited to gain valuable insights into succeeding at college, how to be successful in a college level science program and learn much more about the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of a conducting research," she says.

Interested in the Summer Equity program? Contact David Martinez for more information.

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