Mr. Jared Sipes is a Bioengineering Ph.D. student at the University of Kansas working in the laboratory of Dr. Andrew
Godwin at the KU Medical School campus. He graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and a minor in biology. After graduating, he worked for a year as an intern at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) researching biomass digestion as part of their biofuels
initiative before joining the BIOE program in Lawrence. He joined Dr. Godwin’s research group in the May 2021 to perform his thesis research.
Jared studies how ovarian cancer uses extracellular vesicles (EVs) to modify the fallopian tube to promote cancer metastasis and progression. EVs are tiny bubble-like particles made up of
fragments of the cell membrane wrapped around proteins and RNA. EVs can be used to shuttle signals between cells. EVs from cancer may contain biomolecules specific to cancer that could potentially be used as biomarkers – molecules that can be used to test for the presence or absence of ovarian cancer. Studying EVs may also help promote understanding of the early stages of cancer development and spread to the fallopian tube, potentially suggesting new therapies for treating ovarian cancer or preventing spread.
We are currently working in collaboration with the Dr. Joanna Burdette, a researcher at the
University of Illinois Chicago. Dr. Burdette’s lab has successfully created several microfluidic
tissue-on-a-chip devices that allow different tissue samples (including healthy fallopian tube and ovarian tissue samples) to be cultured together to mimic real life conditions. To test the effect of ovarian cancer EVs on the fallopian tube, we are using Dr. Burdette’s platform to culture fallopian tube samples while treating them with EVs. After the treatment is done, the tissue is collected and scanned using the GeoMx Digital Spatial Profiler, an exciting new technology that allows us to see how the EVs change gene expression in fallopian tube cells. We are also harvesting the media from the culture and purifying it to collect the EVs released by the fallopian tube. We then analyze the proteins carried by the EVs, giving us insight into 1) how the fallopian tube responds to signaling from cancer and 2) what cancer-associated biomarkers could potentially be present on fallopian tube EVs.