In 2009, as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chorom Pak was part of a group of researchers working to understand how sensitive patients’ cells were to certain therapies for blood cancers, such as multiple myeloma.
The group, which also included UW-Madison professors Shigeki Miyamoto and David Beebe, and postdoctoral fellow Edmond Young, would receive large numbers of patient samples from hospitals containing cancer cells so that the researchers could analyze them, Pak says.
One major challenge they faced was that some of the samples, which were derived from patient biopsies, did not have large enough counts of cancer cells to be useful to the researchers.
“This was very unfortunate because these patients were volunteering to give us biopsy samples, but we were only able to analyze about half of them,” Pak says. “And on the scientific side, we were potentially biasing our data.”