Katy Pham researches Drug Addiction Recovery in Japan with PRIME

Katy Pham (class of 2016) , a Human Bio Major and Global Health Minor is a third year Marshall student who loves to travel, meet new people and discover new things. She was was born & raised in France, then moved to California before her freshman year in high school. Katy is studying to become a doctor and to ultimately work for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders). In her free time she loves to hike, read or do heated yoga. Katy completed her field experience with PRIME at the NARA Institute of Science and Technology located in Japan.


In Katy’s words she describes her field experience:


"I worked with Dr. Jason Haga and Dr. Kohei Ichikawa on a research project with a main goal of improving the rates of drug discovery. A critical obstacle to the speed of drug discovery is the screening process. The screening process is not only really costly, but it is also really lengthy. In fact, researchers have to screen library of a million of compounds. To resolve this issue, computer scientists have come up with molecular docking, which is essentially the virtual simulations of the interactions between proteins and ligands. However, molecular docking can be quite difficult to work with if one does not have the resources necessary such as the computer science knowledge, the supercomputers or the money to buy supercomputers. Thus, we worked to provide molecular docking as an accessible tool for non-computer science researchers. In order to do so, we developed virtual machines that had Dock6, a molecular docking program and we incorporated Hadoop, a framework that allows for parallel processing of multiple jobs and the processing of large data sets, onto the virtual machines. Thus, through the incorporation of Hadoop, we were able to improve the virtual machines that will be used in the future to upload on a commercial cloud, available for all researchers.
In order to conduct my research project in Japan, we were first trained during Spring Quarter for 4 hours a week. During those 4 hours, we learned the basics that we would be using throughout the internship. In addition, we also participated in cultural workshops where we discussed what we expected/what we were looking forward to during the trip. Throughout my 8 weeks in Japan, I was able to not only trave