Catching Cancer at the Start
Kostas Papamarkakis, ’09, hasn’t cured cancer, but he can detect it sooner—and more accurately—than with currently used methods.
It’s not a miracle of science, but the result of his research at a Northeastern lab—one of only a few in the world where scientists are applying infrared spectroscopy to tissue.
“With infrared spectroscopy, we can see proteins being raided or track subtle changes chemically, which can point to cancer or a viral infection,” Papamarkakis, a double major in biology and health science, explains. “Infrared spectroscopy allows us to track cellular degradation before it shows physically, which is what’s being done now.”
A serious researcher while still an undergrad, Papamarkakis used the technique to diagnose oral biopsies. His work won him top honors at the University’s 2009 Research and Scholarship Expo, and also landed his findings in Laboratory Investigation, a leading science journal. He’s now applying to medical school and considering several job opportunities in clinical research.
“I’ve been involved in research since freshman year, and really got to understand and love the process,” he says. “I definitely want to pursue something in oncology, because it’s so inclusive for all people. It’s a field that needs a lot of help and still has a lot to be done.”