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Brennan Clark & Prashant Godishala

Project Summary

A non-invasive risk-analysis tool was developed for assessing HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer using oral-rinse samples. The idea for this tool came from work that showed evidence of abnormal numbers of chromosomes (aneuploidy) in HPV-related bladder-cancer cells. Studies indicated fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) was the best tool to effectively visualize chromosomes within cells, and detect aneuploidy. This method was re-engineered for use with oropharyngeal cells by creating an oral cell rinse protocol and choosing to analyze specific chromosomes (3, 7, 8, and 20), based on work by King et al. (unpublished). Additionally, a BioView Duet Microscope was altered for effective oral cell visualization, and an online cell classification tool, TeleGene™, was reformatted for oral cell categorization. This protocol was used to establish a baseline for aneuploidy in 59 oral-rinse samples from healthy patients, which was compared to aneuploidy in 10 oral-rinse samples from HPV-positive patients. There was no significant difference in the number of aneuploid cells among chromosomes in healthy patients both when blocked and not blocked by gender (p = 0.05). However, there was a significant difference in aneuploidy between HPV-positive and HPV-negative samples (p = 0.05), suggesting that the created test is effective in analyzing for potential risk for oropharyngeal cancer in individuals with HPV. As a result of our work, our research site has patented and sold the process outlined in this paper for mass clinical application.

 Brennan Clark

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   Prashant Godishala

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Honors & Awards
Brennan Clark (2016) & Prashant Godishala (2016) worked at Access Genetics under the guidance of Dr. Ronald McGlennen. Brennan and Prashant won the First Grand prize at ISEF, as well as Best in the category of Translational Medical Science. Also at ISEF, they won a ten-day trip to present their research in China through the Intel Foundation Cultural and Scientific Visit to China Award and the induction into the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society. They were awarded the United States Navy/Marine Office of Naval Research Award at the regional science fair, and at the state science fair, they won the First Place Grand Award, Third Place 3M Foundation Award, and the University of Minnesota Medical Science Training Program Award. At the North Central Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, Brennan and Prashant won 2nd place overall and a $1,500 scholarship, advancing to the National JSHS competition. They also won the Presidential Award given to the top project in their category. Brennan will be attending Bowdoin College, and Prashant will be attending the University of Pennsylvania.