Service before Self

Tuesday, September 17, 2013
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Christine Hebert’s dedication to service has led her to some life-changing opportunities. From spending her spring break building affordable homes in the U.S. to participating with triage in developing countries, Hebert has traversed the globe in the name of serving others. At home at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), Hebert works as a research assistant in professor Charles Walker’s lab, conducting cancer research since 2011 and training fellow students in cell culture and other lab techniques. “We use a cell line of neuroblastoma cells to study the relationship between p53 and mortalin,” says Hebert. “P53 is a transcription factor, a protein that plays a key role in programmed cell death in cells that have DNA damage. Mortalin is a protein that when overexpressed may interfere with p53 and inhibit the death of cancerous cells.”

This past summer, Hebert had the opportunity to expand her skills in bioinformatics and statistical analysis through a grant from the International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) of the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research at UNH. For two months, Hebert lived and worked in Lyon, France, conducting research on DNA samples from patients with sarcoma at Centre Leon Berard. While much of her work was independent Hebert benefitted from the guidance of Dr. David Cox ’98, a cancer researcher with a special focus on genotyping and epidemiology.  Relying on her newfound strengths for statistical analysis to interpret the data more effectively, Hebert says, “I had to target specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and determine if one haplotype of SNPs was more likely to be present in a sarcoma sample than another haplotype.”

As a Biomedical Sciences major with a 3.81 GPA, Hebert will take a gap year before attending medical school to hopefully travel with Global Bridges, the world’s largest student-lead global health and sustainable development organization with which she travelled to Honduras last year. Hebert expects to serve a community in Ghana with Global Brigades during J-term. She plans to work for a year in Nicaragua with the organization. “I’d like to help with what Global Brigades is trying to accomplish and provide my input on how they can improve,” says Hebert who hopes to secure an job as a program advisor, which will enable her to interface with the communities-in-need and better understand their most pressing issues, as well as work with students on brigades.

Ultimately, Hebert envisions a career as a doctor in the military as the pinnacle of her life dedicated to service. “I’d get to serve my country by being a doctor for those who are willing to sacrifice their lives for our safety,” says Hebert. Meanwhile, as a Marble Scholar, Hebert is a prime example of a student who works to get the most out of her experience at the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA). “Before I came here, I didn’t realize all the opportunities and resources available at the University,” says Hebert. “I’m so grateful now, and excited to talk to others about what they can do as well as thank all the people who’ve made these opportunities possible.”