Rachel Darman

As a cell biologist on H3 Biomedicine’s Target Biology team, I work in the lab growing, treating and analyzing cells and their associated oncogenic proteins. In particular, I investigate protein-protein interaction using fluorescent microscopy. These experiments produce mesmerizing images, with bright red spots resulting from the interaction of proteins in close proximity superimposed over blue-stained cell nuclei, all on a black background reminiscent of outer space. While this elegant tool certainly paints a pretty picture, it also gives us an extraordinary foundation for understanding the complexities—and possibilities—of genomics-based cancer biology.

Growing up in Hawaii as the youngest of five children, my family has always been one of the most important parts of my life. Understandably, my early research interests shifted considerably when my mother was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma. Standard treatments—radiation and chemotherapy—were able to extend her life. That time was absolutely priceless to our family. Ultimately, however, these treatments could not cure her. Since then, I’ve dedicated my scientific career to understanding cancer biology and helping develop novel therapeutics that can address disease on a fundamental level, in the hopes for further extending life, particularly for those whose cancers have limited treatment options.

H3 Biomedicine appealed to me because of the company’s focus on exploiting cancer genomics—understanding the biology and genetics of tumors—as a means to understand disease and develop treatments. Our industry has seen that the seemingly same type of cancer does not react uniformly to the same treatment. H3’s vision for treating cancer involves addressing it in the context of each patient: one size does not fit all, or even most! Assessing patients for the specifics of their disease requires investigation of the genotypes and the critical molecules involved, not only in the patients’ normal tissue but also in the tumors themselves.

Working at H3 has proved to be a manifestation of all the elements I had hoped to find in my work; these are my kind of people, and my kind of science. The team members at H3 are collaborative by nature, with group-based approaches to solving the complexities inherent in decoding the genomic bases of cancers. We are intensely focused on learning about cancer targets in-depth, understanding fully their key biological and genetic components.

When I was taking care of my mom, hope was a significant part of coping with her diagnosis. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues have also lost family members to cancer. Personalizing that experience is a powerful driver of discovery and it makes the science less academic. H3’s name – human, health, hope – is more than a tagline. It is our mantra. Using a powerful combination of hope and experimental rigor, we transform science into medicine.

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