Research on Cell Resistance to Drugs by Luke Dragseth ‘23 and Katya McDonald ‘22 Posted on November 20th, 2020 by


Luke Dragseth ‘23 and Katya McDonald ‘22 researched cell resistance to drugs with Dr. Laura Burrack (Biology). Each student had an individual project that contributed to Dr. Burrack’s lab which studies cancer cells and their resistance to treatment. 


Dragseth’s research focused on ways in which deletion of proteins involved in protecting the genome affected the evolution of antifungal drug resistance. The process involved measuring the rate and frequency of drug resistance in cells with different genetic mutations. Dragseth also examined the importance of resistance versus tolerance which will be researched further in a long-term study. 


Dragseth said he gained important research skills through this project, such as fundamental lab skills and independent problem solving. He also noted:, “This experience definitely solidified my plans to go into the research field in the future.” 



McDonald’s project explored antifungal drug resistance in emerging fungal pathogens by screening different fungal species for pre-existing drug resistance that had not been previously exposed. The results showed that some species who hadn’t been exposed to the drugs already had some inherent resistance. 



McDonald shared her research with fellow research students over the summer and presented her findings at the Gustavus Fall Research Symposium. Reflecting on her research experience, McDonald said, “Going in I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it being only a Sophomore, but advisors know what you’re capable of and you can do it. Don’t doubt yourself and just go for it.”



“The research projects conducted this summer impact the Gustavus community primarily through the benefits to the students,” said Dr. Burrack. Beyond Gustavus, the research conducted by Dragseth and McDonald will be published and shared to improve further research on drug resistance. 



Dragseth’s research was funded by First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) at Gustavus and McDonald’s research was funded by the Johnson and Peterson Summer Research Fellowship. 


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