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Sommer Scholars

Eric Wier

PhD Student, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Growing up in Pennsylvania near state game lands, Eric Wier and his two brothers—a set of identical triplets—spent much of their time wandering through the woods and streams, wondering about nature. At home, their father, a high school biology teacher, and their mother, a registered nurse, engaged the children in frequent discussions about science, so it’s no surprise that all three boys eventually set out on paths to research. As an undergraduate majoring in biochemistry, with an internship at the Hershey Medical Center, Wier investigated mechanisms of cancer progression and pathogenesis and got hooked on scientific research. “It was the first time I got a sense of how science is actually done and that it’s not just textbooks and memorization,” he says. “It was exciting to see that the scientific research that eventually finds its way into textbooks is done by people much like me.” As a PhD student, Wier is studying the role of the transcription factor NF-kB in cancer. This complex of proteins controls the function of hundreds of different genes, and research by Wier and his colleagues is showing that NF-kB can interact with other proteins to control inflammation linked with colon cancer. Eventually, he says, finding a way to tweak this interaction could lead to new cancer treatments. 24: Number of rock concerts Wier went to last year