Summer of Discovery for High School Student

Maya copy WEB
By Isiah REYES

Maya Ramamurthy, 17, worked at the cancer research center City of Hope for 10 weeks full-time over the summer of 2014. The work she did, research on treating lymphoma, was recently published in the American Society of Hematology. Lymphoma occurs when cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, grow and multiply uncontrollably. These cancerous cells can travel to many parts of the body and form tumors.

Ramamurthy said that studies conducted prior to 2002 show that for lymphoma patients, older age at bone marrow transplant, total body irradiation, and a low number of cells infused during transplant contribute to an increased risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia.

“Today, treatment practices have changed so that patients receiving transplants are older, more cells are infused, and total body irradiation is used less,” Ramamurthy said. “Thus, the purpose of our research was to determine how these changes in the treatment protocol after 2002 have affected the risk of developing a second cancer.”

The results of the research showed that although older people are having transplants, the risk of developing therapy-related acute myeloid leukemia has been reduced. Ramamurthy said that this could be attributed to the fact that more cells are infused and total body irradiation is used less.

The research published was one of the projects Ramamurthy was a part of during her time in the Dept. of Population Sciences. Her job was to look through the medical records of 1,261 patients who have been treated for lymphoma. For this project, there were 19 people who contributed.

“When I first started the project, I had no idea that the work would be submitted for publication, so when I found out it had been accepted, I was taken by complete surprise and excitement,” Ramamurthy said. “As a high school student, I feel privileged to have been given this opportunity. I have always been interested in scientific research, but never thought I could be a part of it while still in high school.”

Having applied to schools in and out of state, Ramamurthy wants to major in biological and chemical engineering. She won’t know where she will be going until March. She does know, however, that wherever she goes, she intends to be involved in research work all four years.

“It is extremely rewarding to know that I have contributed to research that will actually be referenced by health care professionals, and could impact the current approach to treating lymphoma,” Ramamurthy said.

“Maya is a true scholar,” said of Clark Magnet High School Principal Doug Dall. “Her quest for knowledge and the dedication to get the work done represents the best Clark Magnet students have to offer.”

The paper can be found at