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Christopher Zorn

Irvington High School
Irvington, NY

The Role of MYC in RET Fusion Tumorigenesis and RET Inhibitor Resistance

Christopher Ilya Zorn investigated the relationship between RET, a gene involved in cellular signals, and MYC, a set of genes that regulate cell growth and death. He created genetically altered lung cancer cell lines, exposed them to various drugs, and measured the MYC protein levels, which appeared at elevated levels and were shown to lead to treatment resistance. His findings suggest paths for further drug research targeting both RET and MYC.

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Christopher Zorn, 17, of Irvington, studied how RET, a gene involved in cellular signals, and the MYC genes, which regulate cell growth and death, affect one another in genetically modified lung cancer cells for his Regeneron Science Talent Search medicine and health project. RET commonly fuses with other genes and leads to many types of tumor development.

Christopher created multiple lung cancer cell lines with different RET gene fusion combinations, introduced various chemical agents, and then measured the resulting MYC protein levels. He found the MYC levels were elevated in most of the cell lines, and often led to treatment resistance. He believes his work merits further research on the relationship between RET and MYC, the mechanism that leads to treatment resistance, and potentially targeting RET and MYC together for future treatments.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Christopher Zorn

At Irvington High School, Christopher co-founded and is president of the math club. He also helped start a nature clean-up program, now with more than 100 volunteers, to combat an invasive species. The son of James Zorn and Vesselina Traptcheva, Christopher wants to use his bioengineering skills to broaden his research to combat global challenges.

2024 Science Talent Search finalist Christopher Zorn

Beyond the Project

As a child, Christopher memorized biodiversity facts he learned at the Museum of Natural History and recreated its iconic blue whale model in miniature from cardboard and clay.

FUN FACTS: Christopher is photographically documenting the ongoing “territory war” of the mushroom, mildew, and fungi population around an old gate he walks by on the way to school.

Illustration of 2024 STS finalist Christopher Zorn by Amy Wike