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Alona Kolnohuz receives a Doctoral Research Awards of the Cancer Research Society


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The CRC is proud to announce that Alona Kolnohuz received a prestigious Doctoral Research Awards of the Cancer Research Society. More information on this award can be found here: 


Alona is a Ph.D. student in molecular medicine under the supervision of Professors Mathieu Laplante and Venkata SK. Manem. She took her first steps into the world of cancer research at a medical school in a small city in Ukraine. Medical studies gave her a solid background in cancer, but it was not enough to fulfill her curiosity. Apart from her medical studies, Alona worked on cancer project in the laboratory of Dr. Harbuzova, gaining skills and experience in lab work. After getting to learn the mechanisms involved in the development of cancer, she was reassured that research is the strongest way to fight this disease. 

To expand research opportunities, Alona took part in the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship program. The pandemic altered plans for lots of people, including Alona, and the face-to-face format of this program changed into virtual. Despite this, she met Profs. Laplante and Manem, passionate researchers who transformed the previously planned laboratory project into a bioinformatics project to meet the new rules of the program. It was a great opportunity for her, as during the 12 weeks of internship, she learned programming, performed complex analysis, and produced important results. Alona was able to successfully cope with this challenge and quickly develop new skills. After the internship, Prof. Laplante offered her to join his team as a Ph.D student as she continued to work on this project remotely. 

 In February 2022, while preparing for her PhD studies, Alona encountered the war. Ukraine was invaded and the war started. Her hometown had been part of the battlefield since the invasion began, so Alona had to stay strong and fight for her values. During this difficult time, Profs. Laplante and Manem continued to support her and when the situation stabilized, she moved to Canada to pursue her Ph.D. Despite being far away from her hometown, Alona joined the volunteer initiative to support the local defense forces. She believes that people should help each other and even the smallest contribution can help save someone's life.  

Currently, Alona continues to develop her wet lab and programming skills, as the combination of these two is a powerful boost to initiate and advance research projects. Alona’s project is focused on a protein that has a potential to balance senescence and immune response in lung cancer. This protein could serve as an early marker to detect and target cancer cells prone to escape immune clearance. Ultimately, this research project aims to be a part of the ongoing advancement in the world of cancer research with the hopes of better understanding this complex disease.