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The Power of Collaboration

Author: Jenna Bilinski

The mission of the Harper Cancer Research Institute (HCRI) is very straight forward: they want to conduct innovative and integrative research that confronts the complex challenges of cancer.  HCRI believes in the power of collaboration to change the way we fight cancer. The greatest minds throughout campus are brought together, whether its chemistry, engineering, biology, physics, mathematics or psychology, to create teams to work on cancer specific problems.

Fourth year Graduate student, Victoria Zellmer, has been researching brain metastasis under Dr. Siyuan Zhang. Zellmer uses a technique borrowed from the neuroscience field which enables them to see a 3D image of the tumor in its microenvironment without slicing or damaging the tissue. After generating large amounts of data, faculty from Computer Sciences are brought in to help interpret the information.

Zellmer says, “Being at Harper as a graduate student and as a young researcher has been an amazing opportunity for me. I have been absolutely pushed to my potential. I have been fortunate enough to be an inventor on a patent for a technology developed in my lab which we’re currently working to build a start-up company on it and I’m acquiring business training along the way.”

Notre Dame undergraduate student, Sarah Fracci, has been training in the Zhang lab under Zellmer. Fracci says, “Working here at Harper has turned into something special. Every day I can end my day knowing that I have made an impact on cancer research.”

At HCRI, they know that research cures cancer. They are changing the way we fight cancer and they’re seeing amazing results.


Originally published by Jenna Bilinski at on February 26, 2016.