Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cancer Research at Huntsman Cancer Institute

A week ago I had the privilege of spending the afternoon at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah.

My brother-in-law Kelly just completed his Ph.D and has been working at Huntsman for years doing cancer research. Not only is Kelly a genius, but he is also the nicest person you could ever hope to meet. I admire him and his family so much.

I was fascinated to see his lab area and the various chemicals he works with every day.

Kelly and some of his colleagues told me about a few of the projects they were working on. I knew that they were drastically simplifying their descriptions, but even with the simple versions, I struggled to understand a fraction of what they were talking about. The complexity of their work astounded me.

Just like a scene straight out of Jurassic Park, he showed me the cryogenic freezer where they store some of the cancer cells they work with. As he opened the freezer and pulled out the canister of cells, thick fog poured out.

One of Kelly's co-workers specializes in working with lasers. He showed me some of the projects he is working on which blew my mind. He works in a dark room with lasers glowing all over his desk. He was able to put a laser on my hand and immediately identify how much Lycopene was in my system.

I was fascinated when Kelly showed me one of the protein molecules and DNA he is working on. At one point I took a picture of the computer screen showing thousands of the connections of DNA strands in the protein.

It was completely unexpected, but at that moment I felt the Spirit so strong. I was looking at one of the most complicated, intricate details of a cell. Researchers spend years trying to figure out the simplest parts of the human body, but still we know so little. Every part of the cell, every little connection of the DNA was so involved and so perfect. I had such a strong feeling that only God could have orchestrated the many systems of our bodies.

The cancer research lab is enormous. In this image, we are standing in the middle of the lab looking down one hallway of stations for researchers. Each lab filled with chemicals and beakers and vials. And if you could look behind this image, you'd see a hallway stretching the opposite direction just as long. And this was only ONE of the many floors in the building doing research.

The biggest thing I took from my visit was hope. The building was full of absolutely brilliant people doing research far beyond what most people can imagine. And this kind of research is happening in labs all over the country. It gave me comfort to know that as daunting as these afflictions can be, there are countless people working behind the scenes to keep us healthy.

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