Save the Date for the 34th Annual UBRP Conference!

Oct. 4, 2022

Protein interactions related to Alzheimer’s disease, aerodynamics of flying insects, working memory in children, novel treatments for chronic pain, ecosystem of fungal symbionts and native grasses, a cancer-on-a-chip models, improving delivery systems for vaccines, how bats sense the environment, interventions for jet lag… learn about all of these topics and more as UBRP students present their research at the 34th Annual UBRP Conference! 

The Conference will be held on Saturday, January 21 from 8:30am – 12:00pm in the Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building (1064 E. Lowell Street) at the University of Arizona Main Campus in Tucson.  The event is free and open to all interested; additional information and a registration link is available at  UBRP students and mentors will be sent information on abstract submissions and event details by e-mail in November.

Picture of Aanika Balaji wearing a white doctor's coat, standing in a hallway

Dr. Aanika Balaji, MD, MPH, will serve as the keynote speaker for the 34th Annual UBRP Conference.

We are excited to welcome Dr. Aanika Balaji, MD, MPH, Resident Physician at Johns Hopkins University, as our keynote speaker.  Aanika is a proud graduate of UBRP, BRAVO!, and the University of Arizona.  Aanika grew up in Mesa, Arizona and moved to Tucson in 2012, excited to learn how to become a scientist.  During her first year, she met Dr. Joyce Schroeder, whose lab studies cell transformation and metastasis in breast cancer.  Aanika was able to work in the lab full time during the summer of 2014 when she joined UBRP.  Her work in the Schroeder lab focused on secondary targets to a novel peptide anti-cancer drug.  Through UBRP, Aanika then applied for BRAVO! and spent the next summer in Gothenburg, Sweden in the lab of Dr. Gunnar Hansson.  That summer was spent learning about mucin protein biology in cystic fibrosis and improving her technique in confocal imaging (in addition to exploring Sweden!).  Shortly after, Aanika graduated from UA and moved to Baltimore, Maryland to start the next chapter: medical school at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

In medical school, Aanika continued research in oncology.  She joined the research group of Dr. Jarushka Naidoo, learning about immune-checkpoint inhibitors and their side effects, termed immune-related adverse events, in cancer patients.  Stepping away from medicine for a year, Aanika earned an MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, focused on epidemiology and biostatistics.  After medical school, she was delighted to match at the Johns Hopkins Osler Internal Medicine Program.  Now, Aanika is learning to be a holistic doctor, continuing research in immune checkpoint inhibitors, and excited to become a future oncologist. 

Aanika’s keynote talk will be on “Immune Checkpoint Inhibition: A Balancing Act in Cancer Treatment.”