Throughout the year, we highlight Van Andel Institute Graduate School’s doctoral students. This month, we’re featuring Lauren Harmon, a Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Dr. Tim Triche, Jr.

Lauren is from Caldwell, Idaho. Prior to joining VAI Graduate School, she worked at Brigham Young University as a research assistant in Dr. Perry Ridge’s lab. Lauren also worked as a research intern for two summers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Dr. Ian Baldwin’s lab.


What is the focus of your thesis research at Van Andel Institute?

In Dr. Triche’s laboratory, we study pediatric acute myeloid leukemia, and my research in particular is focused on the genetics that cause the leukemia. We know that the better we can understand the genetics, the better we can match up patient treatment to get them the best outcome.

What do you hope to achieve with your Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology?

Most of us know someone who has been affected by cancer. Because of this, I wanted to study cancer and make that the subject of my career. Specifically, I chose pediatric acute myeloid leukemia because one of the greatest injustices of the world is that children should have to suffer through these difficult treatments and possibly not even survive the disease.

Why did you choose Van Andel Institute Graduate School?

What I love about Van Andel Institute Graduate School is how passionate everybody is about science, and how there’s this sense of community. Every Friday, there’s an opportunity for people to share what they’re researching, and then afterward we all get together and discuss the science and discuss what’s going on in our laboratories. It’s a really exciting environment to be a part of.