Georgetown Scientific Research Journal GSR Journal
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Student Highlights: Brandon Peng (SOH'24)

Brandon Peng is currently a senior in the School of Health majoring in Human Science on the pre-med track. After graduation, Brandon will be taking 2 gap years to pursue clinical research and medical assisting. Professionally, he is interested in many different fields as an upcoming physician and has a keen liking for dermatology. 

Experience in Research:

For the past 2.5 years, Brandon has been researching pancreatic cancer in Dr. Chunling Yi’s lab, the Yi Lab, under the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center here at Georgetown. His focus is pancreatic cancer. Even today, this aggressive cancer has a low survival rate of 12% and an incredibly poor prognosis. Brandon is studying why and how these cancer cells are so invasive, causing high mortality rates and rapid recurrence. His current research includes identifying different proteins involved in the phenotypic change that occurs in the epithelial cells of pancreatic cancer that cause them to be more motile, invasive, and aggressive. While the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, commonly known as EMT, has been greatly studied, no one protein has been identified as being the main cause. Brandon has narrowed his search down to one gene that he will write about in his Honors Thesis for his human science major.

Although he possesses a great interest and passion for research, apart from a 2 month introduction to the basic techniques of working in a wet lab, including pipetting, data collection and measurement, and literature reviews, Brandon came into college with no experience. In his sophomore year, Brandon started to reach out to professors regarding all types of research, as he did not remain adamant on only researching one topic and was open to discovering what interested and engaged him the most. He stumbled upon Dr. Yi’s lab after many failed cold emailing attempts; he really enjoyed the 30 minute conversation he shared with her discussing the lab’s work and decided to join after Dr. Yi offered him the position. 


Over the course of his research, Brandon has learned some valuable skills and encourages everyone to give research a try, even if they do not believe that they will enjoy it. He advises that freshmen begin to put in the work as early as possible as research can be as rigorous as working a part time job (18-20 hours a week) while being a full time student. However, having started in his sophomore spring semester, Brandon does recognize the value in still reaching out, even if a little late, if research is a true passion. Overall, he has thoroughly enjoyed his research journey and hopes to continue with it in the future while on the path to becoming a physician.