Kevin Kanda made a promise to his family to try to fight cancer.
“I’ve lost some family and friends to cancer….my uncle died from lymphoma and I’ve known people with pancreatic and breast cancer as well,” he said.
Initially Kanda thought nursing would be a good option for him. He tried nursing school for a year at Sentara College in Chesapeake, Virginia until he decided to switch to science.
“I liked how the system of biology works. It’s like an orchestra. Each musician plays their part correctly or else bad things happen like cancer,” Kanda explained. “It’s very much that someone is messing up the keys and that’s why you have cancer.”
After finishing his bachelor’s in science at Old Dominion University, he decided to pursue a master’s in science in biomedical research at Eastern Virginia Medical School. During these two years, he worked on pancreatic cancer research.
“Nursing made me think about the patients because cancer is such a deadly disease so it made me want to continue to do research and aim to help the scientific process of research,” he said.
Kanda started to look for doctoral programs in Virginia but realized that there were none that were focused on cancer research which led him to apply to UT Health San Antonio.
“In Virginia, there’s a huge focus on brain research so cancer research wasn’t on the top of the radar. When I got the call from Dr. Blake saying that I was accepted, I was so excited.”
Kanda is currently a student in the Cancer Biology discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program. He is in Dr. Alexander Bishop’s lab studying the metabolism in Ewing Sarcoma.
His favorite class that he has taken so far was the Fundamentals of Biomedical Sciences (IBMS 5000) which is a core course that covers the fundamentals of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, organismal and systems biology, and microbiology and immunology.
Although he hasn’t decided on a research project so far, he is looking to do a project that involves DNA repair, metabolism, and aging.
“We think that when you change the metabolic environment, you prime the cells to be more tumorigenic than normal cells.”
Outside of school, he enjoys free writing and writing fan fiction about his favorite video games Resident Evil, Kingdom Hearts, and Call of Duty.
“In science, we play around with variables and in writing, you play around with characters and moods. My active imagination in science blends into writing,” he explained.
After he graduates, he plans to look for careers in academia or scientific writing.
“I’d like to strike a healthy balance between writing and science.”