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  • Modeline Longjohn, MSc (by Research) Cancer Biology, BSc (Hons) Genetics

Supervisor:

Dr. Sherri L. Christian

Program of Study:

PhD, Biochemistry

Project Title:

Monitoring of pediatric B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) disease progression: an extracellular vesicle-based approach

Research Summary:

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer. There are many types of ALL with some types having a very high chance of survival. However, for some types of ALL only 30-40% of children are cured. In addition, when a cancer returns (relapse), the survival rate is only 30-50%. Detecting high-risk types of ALL and relapse involves invasive bone marrow and/or lumbar punctures. We are proposing to use nanoparticles that are released from cancer cells to detect the leukemic cells. These nanoparticles are called extracellular vesicles (EVs) and they circulate between the blood and bone marrow and between the blood and the central nervous system. This means that EVs in the blood could be used to detect cancer cells no matter where they are in the body. Thus, a simple blood draw could potentially be used to monitor treatment success, relapse, and maybe even used for diagnosis. However, the specific molecules that are carried by ALL EVs are not known. Here, we plan to identify ALL EV-specific genetic signatures using small molecules called microRNA. We will determine if this ALL specific signature can be detected in the blood when cancer is present but not when patients have been cured of their cancer. If we are successful, a blood draw that can be performed anywhere in the province could be used to track the level of ALL. In other words, children can stay in their home communities while their blood sample travels to the Janeway Children’s Hospital.

Scholarships and/or Awards:

Grants and Scholarships held

  • Cancer Research Training Program (CRTP) Traineeship Award, 2021
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland, School of Graduate Studies Graduate fellowship, 2019-2022
  • NTU International Development scholarship for MSc (£2000), 2013
  • RSSDA overseas undergraduate scholarship (£100,000),2009-2013
  • Alumni GCSE grant to cover exam fee ($50), 2006
  • SPDC secondary school scholarship to cover high school fees, 2003-2005

Awards and Honours

  • Dr. Patrick JA Doherty Award in Biochemistry, 2020
  • Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) Woman of Distinction in Science, 2020
  • ConSciCon Canada fellow, 2020
  • Barrowman Travel Award, 2019,2020
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland, School of Graduate Studies Graduate fellowship
  • Conferences, 2019-2022
  • 1st runner up, Memorial University (campus wide) 3 Minute Thesis Competition, 2018
  • Nanoscale Flow Cytometry Conference Travel Award, 2018    
  • 1st runner up (for best PhD presentation) at Biochemistry Summer Symposium, 2018      
  • BHCRI travel bursary to 2018 CRTP workshop, 2018          
  • Global Lounge Fellowship at Nottingham Trent University for outreach, 2014         
  • Author profile for novel “Orange Butterfly” by Liverpool International College, 2014       
  • V-inspired grant for literary project for primary school outreach, 2013

Career Aspirations:

To become a clinician-scientist

Location:

Memorial University of Newfoundland

Publications:

Phan,H-J, Gormley, D.J.B., Smith, R.H., Longjohn, M. N., Dang-Lawson, M., Matsuuchi, L.,  Gold, M. R., and Christian, S. L. (2021).Transfer of functional receptors by CD24 and IgM stimulation. In Prep

Longjohn, M. N., Egbule, O.S., Danso, S. O., Akujuru, E., Ibubeleye, V. T., Oweredaba, C. I., Ogharanduku, T., Traore, A., Manu, A. & Iweriebor, B. C. (2020). Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes from across Africa reveals potentially clinically relevant mutations. bioRxiV. MS RD#: BIORXIV/2020/287201.

Longjohn, M. N., Hudson, J. B. J., Smith, N.C., Rise, M., Moorehead, P., & Christian, S. L. (2020). Deciphering the “Living Twitterverse”: Extracellular Vesicles in Haematological Malignancies. Blood Reviews.

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