Archive: Donation Forms

December 8, 2018

Hello miRcorers!

The annual Genes and Health contest will be held on January 26th, 2019 for this school year! Please spread the word to your GIDAS clubs and anyone that may be interested. There is no fee to participate and is a very good bonding experience!

There will also be a talent show, so please sign up with the talent you will be performing! Collaborations with other members are welcome as well!

Here is a link to a google drive folder full of helpful study materials:

Our disease of interest is pancreatic cancer, so make sure you study the correct topics! See you at the next meeting!

Posted in Uncategorized by Catherina Lu
October 20, 2018

Hi miRcorers!

For this week’s meeting, Dr. Lee traveled all the way to San Diego so she could have an in person meeting with all the members in the San Diego location! All the other members met through the online video call. We had two student presenters today.

DNA groups have been finalized! If you do not have a group, please contact Karthik Ravi. New groups met today after the presentations.

Posted in Uncategorized by Catherina Lu
October 20, 2018

Hi miRcorers!

Dr. Marina Pasca Di Magliano, Ph.D., Associate Professor of General Surgery of the University of Michigan, came and gave us an informative talk for our fifth meeting. Temporary groups then split up and finished up their advocacy materials.

Final groups for DNA and RNA divisions are being finalized. A document will be sent out when those groups are created, so please watch out for it so you know who to work with!


Posted in Uncategorized by Catherina Lu
October 6, 2018

Hi miRcorers!

This week Dr. Howard Crawford, Ph.D. Professor of the UM Med School and Director of Pancreatic Cancer Research Program, came and gave us an informative and interesting talk about pancreatic cancer and the research he has done with it. Afterwards, everyone split up into their groups to finish their advocacy materials they started last week.

Most of the committees met again after the general meeting. If you still have any interest of joining a committee, please contact the committee head!

See you all soon!

Posted in Uncategorized by Catherina Lu
September 29, 2018

Hi miRcorers!

Today, Dr. Lee introduced the GDC Data Portal from the National Cancer Institute (NIH) to everyone which we used to find important data for different types of pancreatic cancer, like survival rate and significant genes. It is a very good resource to use for our research. The NIH also has a page on their website about pancreatic cancer and common cancer statistics (, which is another very good informational resource to compare pancreatic cancer with other cancers. We had a short icebreaker to help everyone learn more names.

We resumed research in the temporary groups from last week and began thinking of ideas to spread awareness for pancreatic cancer. Examples include making posters, infographics, t-shirts, etc. Please finish those awareness materials at home for the next meeting if you didn’t already finish. Once you are done, you can upload those materials with your group names into the “Final advocate product for Pancreatic cancer Research” folder.

We also had committee meetings today after the general meeting. For those that are interested in joining a committee, you can “shadow” a meeting so that you can get the idea of what the committee does and which one you would be most interested in. Please contact the committee leader you interested in if you have any interest in joining!

See you all next week!

Posted in Uncategorized by Catherina Lu
September 22, 2018

Hi miRcorers!

We had the first official miRcore meeting of 2019 today. Thank you to all the students and parents for coming!

We went over the values and goals of miRcore and started introducing everyone through a few short games of two truths and a lie. As the students got to know each other, Dr. Lee had a separate meeting with all the parents. As a group, Dr. Lee went over our main goal of changing the world through democratizing medicine. Our disease  of focus for this year is pancreatic cancer. Students who attended the meeting began researching general information about pancreatic cancer in temporary research groups.

For all GIDAS leaders: Eleanor Lin will be leading an informational GIDAS workshop through an online video call meeting. If you would like to be a part of this, please respond to the poll so that she can decide what date to hold the workshop. Here is the link:


Thank you once again for your participation and commitment!





Posted in Uncategorized by Catherina Lu
September 15, 2018

Hi miRcorers!


We had a GIDAS leadership training on 9/15/2018 for all new and returning GIDAS leaders. If you were not able to attend the meeting or have any additional questions, send an email to for help.


Saturday 9/22/2018 will be the first miRcore meeting for the 2018-2019 school year! Please watch out for the attendance projection to let us know whether or not you can come. If you haven’t received the attendance projection email by Friday please contact Dr. Lee. Make sure you wear your GIDAS shirts to the first meeting! We will be taking a group photo of 2019 miRcore.


Hope to see you all soon!

Posted in Uncategorized by Catherina Lu | Tags:
March 24, 2018

3/24/2018 – Blog Post

Eleanor Lin

During the March 24th meeting, members were introduced to BLAST, the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool ( The focus was on using Nucleotide BLAST to match RNA sequences from a file type called FASTA to RNA sequences in the NCBI database. FASTA files contain a name for each sequence and the order of the nucleotides in the sequence. Lines from a FASTA file can be copy-pasted into BLAST, which will provide a visual summary of the matches that it has found for the input sequence. It also lists out information for each individual sequence match.UntitledDuring the meeting, the concept of reverse complementary DNA sequences was reviewed, in order to explain why BLAST will label some sequence matches as “Plus/Plus” and others as “Plus/Minus.” DNA has two strands (it is a double helix) that go in opposite directions. One strand is designated the “positive” strand, and one is “negative.” DNA has a 5’ end and a 3’ end. When RNA is transcribed from the positive strand, it will be transcribed from the 3’ end towards the 5’ end of the DNA. The 5’ end of the RNA will match up with the 3’ end of the DNA, and vice versa. The RNA goes in the reverse direction compared to the DNA, but its base pairs still match (e.g. G to C). The reverse complementary RNA for a positive strand DNA sequence will be identical to the corresponding negative strand DNA sequence. For the example below, the reverse complementary RNA for the positive strand, read from the 5’ end, would be CAUCCU . . .  the same as the negative strand, only with T’s replaced by U’s.Picture1

BLAST finds all the matches it knows, from both positive and negative strand DNA and RNA; this explains why some matches are Plus/Plus and others are Plus/Minus. However, another element of complexity is that RNA is processed by having parts removed, i.e. introns. So not all the RNA that is initially transcribed from the DNA makes it into the final RNA product. Depending on which introns are removed from the RNA, different “isoforms” (versions) can be created. The process of creating isoforms by processing the RNA differently is called “alternative splicing.” BLAST finds many different matches for the RNA sequence input that may be slightly different, or have gaps, due to alternative splicing.


Image: In number 2, “RNA processing,” the blue loops that are removed from the red pre-mRNA are the introns.
Image from miRcore summer camp slideshows.

The meeting concluded with suggestions from members on how miRcore leadership could be determined in the future, and what qualities a good miRcore leader should have. Members proposed a mix of the application and election processes in order to choose leaders, and qualifications such as experience, attendance, and, of course, compassion. Some commented that the list of good leadership qualities generated at the meeting included traits that were at odds with each other (being assertive versus being open-minded), but agreed that character was an important determining factor for good leadership. The discussion is still open, as miRcorers determine the direction of their organization in the years to come.

Posted in 2017-18 School Year by Srikar Munukutla
March 17, 2018

A Summary of Dr. Castro’s Talk (3/10/18)
Prasanna Padmanabham


Last week on 3/10/18, Dr. Castro presented her research on treating Lower Grade Gliomas by injecting a vector that allowed immune cells to identify and kill tumor cells.


Her treatment hypothesis solves a big problem doctors have had with brain cancer. Since tumors grow in the brain, doctors must remove enough tissue to get rid of the cancer cells, but be careful they don’t remove too much as that can impact the person’s life. This is a big problem in children because their brains are still developing and removing too much tissue can cause developmental issues. Patients that undergo extensive surgery tend to live the longest, but they too still have a very big risk of another tumor growing again.


In Dr. Castro’s model, immune cells are trained to kill cancer cells and this prevents the tumor from growing again. The have conducted many models in rats, and the rats that receive the treatment live longer. These rats have been injected with cancer cells in multiple regions of the brain, and everytime, the immune cells end up trained and effectively remove the tumors. Dr. Castro’s team have also injected the rats with cancer cells after they have successfully combated cancer the first time, and the rats survived.


A question a student had asked if the rats had any scars left after the treatment that affected performance. Dr. Castro claimed that there was no behavior difference in the rats, but the answer could be different for humans.  


In conclusion, Dr. Castro’s research holds potential to increase the low rate of brain cancer survival. Maybe in the future, brain cancer will no longer be a death sentence.


March 15, 2018

This year’s disease of focus is Brain Cancer.

Posted in 2017-18 School Year by mircore