To learn more about our goals and working environment, check the ‘Frequently asked questions’ section below.
- What is the overall mission of this laboratory within MSK?
- What type of Research does this laboratory do?
- Is the type of work repetitive?
- What is the role of the Laboratory?
- Are there opportunities to grow my knowledge base?
- What is the environment in this Laboratory like?
- What if I have questions, how accessible is the head of this Laboratory?
To contribute with quality data to a broad range of research designed to better understand the causes of cancer and cancer progression and to improve existing strategies for diagnosis, treatment and prevention, as well as quality of life in long-term survivors.Back to top
Our experiments and other laboratory activities are designed to uncover and/or discover genetic and non-genetic markers of risk to develop cancer. In cancer patients and survivors, we look for markers of risk of progression, survival, recurrence, and response to or side-effects from treatment.
Generally speaking, results from our research will not be applied immediately nor directly to the diagnosis or care of patients, however, in the long-term, our research is likely to make direct and indirect contributions to improve the current prevention, diagnosis, care, and follow up strategies, as well as overall well-being among long-term survivors.Back to top
We work on population-based and on hospital-based research studies. This means that we investigate characteristics in biosamples from participants who are not affected or that are affected with cancer. As an example, we search for characteristics or biomarkers that affect cancer risk and progression of the disease using blood, urine, or saliva. We also handle and investigate tumor tissues. Alternatively, a lab member might be involved in a study that investigates factors that modulate quality of life after treatment in long-term cancer survivors. Our day to day activities vary and evolve according to the study needs. Regardless of the study, a laboratory member might perform the same set of assays on hundreds of samples for a few weeks, or review literature, retrieve information from public databases, and design new assays at another time. As with any laboratory, there will be ‘lab keeping’ activities for the maintenance of our normal operation which might include various quality control procedures, update of inventories, preventative maintenance of equipment, and others. Because all laboratory members deserve to be surrounded by a safe and clean environment, basic laboratory keeping activities include re-organization, clean-up, and tidiness. This, in addition, optimizes the work-flow and lowers the risk of accidental errors.
You will learn to understand the purpose, the relevance, and the impact of well executed laboratory experiments, and realize that a daily activity is a means to a much greater goal.Back to top
The laboratory provides guidance and feedback for the type of samples that should be obtained and transported to us. For most studies, Dr. Irene Orlow is also involved during the development of the scientific questions, and considers and/or determines the best laboratory analytical approach accordingly. Upon completion, our laboratory data is typically analyzed by expert biostatisticians in the context of demographic, clinical, pathological, treatment modality, and in some cases, environmental exposure data (for example, sun exposure or smoking). The findings are discussed with the research team. Once consensus is reached regarding the interpretation and impact of the results obtained, findings are presented within the Institution, at Study Meetings, as well as national and international meetings. New findings are made available to a greater scientific community, and the society, through peer reviewed articles.
As part of the Lab team, laboratory members interact with peers, research study assistants, study coordinators, and investigators from our department, as well as with other MSK departments, and with external collaborators. Laboratory members have the opportunity to present data within our group at our Laboratory Meetings, within the Epidemiology Service, and to contribute directly to the submission of abstracts and other reports.Back to top
Indeed, and this is encouraged as it keeps us sharp and engaged. To achieve our mission, we acquire knowledge to understand the purpose of the experiments, master the techniques, instrumentation, and related applications, and to anticipate and understand the results of the experiments. This knowledge might be gained through published or unpublished documents, manuals, book chapters, in person training or workshops, lectures, and on-line resources. Our role plays to our strengths, and there is every opportunity to learn, and to find exciting new skills.
Laboratory Meetings are held weekly, and are one of the forums for discussing new findings, study progress, ideas, difficulties, and to troubleshoot as a group. Importantly, these meetings provide the opportunity to further grasp the relevance and/or impact of your work, and to learn of what other relevant areas of study have reported, or are involved in. This is achieved, in part, through mini-journal clubs in which lab members summarize salient topics from a preselected set of high impact peer-reviewed Journals. Occasionally, guests from other disciplines and/or Departments, are invited to present to our group. Laboratory Meetings provide a safe environment to ask questions and receive feedback, to think differently, to hold intellectual discussions while addressing different clinical and research aspects.
In addition, working with us provides the opportunity to learn about other exciting projects whether current or under development through attendance to our biweekly Epidemiology Service Meetings, and our bimonthly Population Science Research Program lectures. In addition, MSK holds Center-wide Lectures. You will be able to hear from national and international experts from a wide range of disciplines, including epidemiology, medicine, genetics, biostatistics, health outcomes, survivorship, behavioral sciences, and others.Back to top
Our work ethics are guided by scientific integrity, passion, a sense of responsibility, hard work, smart work, common sense, careful execution, maximum efficiency, motivation, discipline, and positive attitude.
As a lab member, you are part of a team that functions much like a family unit. It is expected that lab members take care of one another and the lab as a whole and are mindful of other projects, equipment, specimens, and working spaces. Lab members do not compete with each other as we are all working very hard towards a common greater goal of advancing the current knowledge in the various aspects/areas of research. Members of this team are considerate and courteous of one another regardless of background, age, gender, race/ethnicity, or views. As a cohesive unit, positivity and collaboration are emphasized and practiced among team members. By supporting each other we further the lab’s work as a whole.Back to top
Dr. Orlow is available for guidance and questions to lab members whenever needed, and if she has a pressing matter she must attend to first, she will let you know. She is very much involved with the day to day function of the lab, and appreciates updates through spontaneous visits to her office, emails, or ad-hoc in-person or video calls. Different situations will call for a different approach, depending on the sensitivity or complexity, and the urgency of the matter.
As with everything else, practicing fluent communication —even for those who are not used to it— will make the next exchange easier and more natural.Back to top