Dutta’s HPV Research Takes Him to International Science Fair


by Connor Andrews

Arun Dutta at the 2010 Virginia Piedmont Science Fair.
Arun Dutta at the 2010 Virginia Piedmont Science Fair.

Arun Dutta, a 2011 Western Albemarle graduate, presented his research and experiments with Human Papilloma Virus not only at the regional and state level this past year, but also at the international fair. “At the regional fair, I won the grand award which got me the ticket to the international and state fair,” said Dutta, “ At states I won first place in cell-molecular biology, and at the international fair, I won third in cell-molecular biology.”

“I felt excited. It was actually my third year going to the international fair,” said Dutta. “It was really quite an experience.

“Imagine you’re sitting at your [exhibit] and you’re looking around and everyone is the exact same and you wonder who they can judge, because they’re all extraordinary,” said Dutta.

One highlight of his trip occurred while he was sitting at his poster during a public viewing day. He looked over at another table and saw a mob of people gathering around a girl and her project. He then noticed that the crowd included Bill Nye, commonly known as “Bill Nye the Science Guy” to middle school science classes and PBS viewers due to the numerous educational videos he has produced. “That might have been the single coolest part,” said Dutta.

“I’ve been working in the lab since the summer before my freshman year, but the project I took this year is from all of the summer going into senior year, then winter break plus a few weekends and hours of practicing. [It took] quite a while,” said Dutta. The numerous hours of research eventually paid off when he gathered the results and presented his research involving the interaction between the cells’ security measures, and one of the HPV genes called E6, which degrades the cell’s security measures, in particular one called Tip60,” said Dutta. He focused primarily on this interaction and how it could contribute to cancer production.

He and others believe that his research has shown light on a different way of looking at cancer development and finding future cures. “It is basically a new target for treatment,” said Dutta.

“Not a whole lot is known about E6 interacting with Tip60,” Dutta said, “I was looking at specific genes and looked at a number of things that could cause significant levels of change.”

“I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to get into the lab, so I have my dad to thank for that,” said Dutta.

“There were two other [competitions]; there was the Intel Science Talent Search, and the other was Siemens Competition, and both of those were about writing a paper about your project, then sending it in for them to read and award, but nothing became of them,” said Dutta, “At all levels I won special awards from dentists since HPV causes oral cancer.”

In the fall, Arun Dutta will attend the University of Virginia, where he plans to pursue his scientific research and find projects and labs to work with in the upcoming years.