Sridhar’s interest in science is year-round, from a challenging courseload to summer internships at ConversantBio and then at Clearview Cancer Institute, where two projects he worked on led to conducting his own analysis of data and a deeper interest in medical ethics regarding genetic testing and counseling.
The project I worked on at Clearview Cancer Institute entailed cataloging a sample of patients who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I organized the patients by age of diagnosis, whether or not they had a genetic mutation, whether they had received genetic counseling, and other specific factors, such as the type of genetic mutation found on their germline (MLH1, MSH2, MSH3, etc.). The overarching goal of this project was to find patients who were missed for genetic counseling (which allows patients’ relatives to be tested for mutations) so that cancer risk could be identified and treated early in family members. I was told to disregard patients who were diagnosed with cancer after the age of 70 because of a belief that they were at low risk for a genetic mutation. That meant that everyone who was over 70 had no chance of receiving genetic counseling, even if they had a mutation. That left out a lot of the people who could possibly be treated.
Since the beginning of my internship, I questioned the ethics of having an age cut-off at 70 years for genetic counseling. If there is no pattern, the mutation can show up at any time and all family members are equally at risk, regardless of whether a patient gets a diagnosis before or after the age of 70. I analyzed the data from the information a little more deeply and actually found no pattern in correlation with age and diagnosis with genetic mutation. This inspired me to research more about it and try and make a change. My goal one day is to see genetic counseling offered to everyone diagnosed with cancer, with no restrictions. In the coming years, I hope to continue with this research to figure out and bring attention to this potential problem.
With my dad’s help, I have submitted an abstract to report this to all of the gastroenterologists practicing and researching around the nation. We hope to present this at a national convention in Chicago. I want to look more deeply into this issue and investigate a larger sample number of patients to gather stronger evidence for my case. I hope to extend my research outside of CCI to a much larger scale to explore and figure out if this really is an ethical issue that needs to receive attention.
Randolph has played a large role in my process of moving through this entire adventure. Through spending treasured time discussing and sharing articles about the medical world with my advisor, English teacher Mr. Gee, my understanding and passion for ethics behind every decision made in the medical field has deepened. I have been supported by him and the science department at Randolph to continue to debate about it with them and formulate my own views on certain policies and decisions.
For example, Mr. Gee and I have discussed the ethics behind the spiked prices in the EpiPen and what regulations should be made universally. He has pushed me to extend my thinking and has inspired me to keep researching and questioning how other people make decisions, which can ultimately affect how we live our daily lives. He has sacrificed a significant amount of his time and has always encouraged me to talk to him if I need help or his support in any way. The student-faculty relationship I have experienced at Randolph has truly motivated me to keep exploring my passion.
Sridhar's portrait was taken by Ella McCary '17 for an editorial photography project in Advanced Photography. Before making the portrait, Ella explained her intentions: I want to base the style of my portrait on the work of Juergen Teller and Mark Seliger. Teller’s pictures are very raw and real, capturing people in their natural habitat. Most of his pictures have a certain low contrast tone. There aren’t many bright colors or distracting background pieces in most of his portrait shots. Many of his pictures look natural and casual, even though he has made a specific choice on how he wants the subject of his picture to pose.
Seliger’s pictures give the feeling that you’re right there with the person in the picture. His pictures capture a narrative of the person he’s photographing. He is widely known as a magazine photographer and the pictures he took for Rolling Stone covers stood out to me as he was able to take pictures that suited the subject perfectly. He was able to create these covers by having his subject pose in a way that is natural but also suiting to the theme.
After interviewing Sridhar, I decided I want to base my picture off of how his internship inspired him. After completing his summer internship, he said he was inspired to pursue a career in the medical field that involved studying cancer or genetics. I’m going to take my pictures in either a hospital or doctor's office. I want to use natural lighting and keep the background somewhat simple, while still being able to convey the location of the picture.