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Cancer Research Center: A Destination for Aspiring Student Researchers

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August 6, 2010

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University of Vermont Student and Albany native Teresa Lloyd-Coronado studying alongside UAlbany cancer researcher JoEllen Welsh

UAlbany summer intern Teresa Lloyd-Coronado looks through a microscope as Professor JoEllen Welsh looks on. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

For a select group of undergraduates each summer, UAlbany's Cancer Research Center (CRC) provides a unique opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the leading cancer researchers in the field.

The Center, which combines the University's expertise in genomics and biomedical sciences with state-of-the-art technology in a gleaming 117,000-square-foot facility, hosts students from schools such as Notre Dame, the University of Connecticut and Queen's University in Ontario.

While interning at the CRC, some students may conduct research analyzing the underlying biology associated with tumor initiation and progression or take part in the development and evaluation of chemopreventive regimens and therapeutic approaches for common cancers.

Teresa Lloyd-Coronado, a senior at the University of Vermont, is studying Vitamin D and breast cancer with CRC Empire Innovations Professor JoEllen Welsh of Environmental Health Sciences. Lloyd-Coronado's experience at the CRC has her contemplating graduate study at UAlbany after she picks up her degree from Vermont next May -- a likely family first after her mother moved to the U.S. from Peru in the 1980s.

"Working at the Cancer Research Center has been a challenging and unique experience," said Lloyd-Coronado, who grew up in Albany in a bilingual household. "Not only do I learn the techniques involved in the research, I get the chance to help carry out experiments -- such as screening cells -- to contribute to the project."

For students Jacqueline Brunton and Matt Crerar, coming to the Center meant getting a passport and visa. Brunton and Crerar both hail from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Brunton is working in Welsh's lab, while Crerar is currently at work in the lab of Associate Professor of Biomedical Sciences Douglas Conklin, studying how the altered metabolism of prostate cancer cells affects their progression.

UAlbany Students Conduct Experiments at the Cancer Research Center

The Cancer Research Center provides opportunities for students from across the U.S. and around the world to study along side some of the leading cancer experts in the field. (Photo Mark Schmidt).

"You cross the border and some things change that you never really expect, learning how to live in another country," said Crerar, who is from Ottawa. "And then you come to a lab like this one that's very well equipped and you have knowledgeable people who are so willing to help you, that's very reassuring in a new environment."

Crerar, who will be a senior when he returns to Queen's in January, is considering returning to UAlbany for graduate school, possibly in the School of Public Health's biomedical sciences program.

Queens, N.Y. native Chad Morgan, who will be a senior at UAlbany in the fall, worked in the lab of Thomas Begley, assistant professor of biomedical sciences, on a project aimed at improving the drugs used during chemotherapy.

"Chad brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the lab," said Begley. "He's truly dedicated to developing a better understanding of the systems scientists utilize to advance cancer research."

Morgan is among a host of students who are playing an active role in advancing cancer research at UAlbany this summer, including:

  • Jared Spaulding, a physics major at UAlbany from Margaretville, N.Y., who is spending the summer conducting protein sequence analysis in the lab of Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Igor Kuznetsov.
  • Tucker Conklin, SUNY Geneseo, working in the lab of Empire Innovations Professor and Center Director Martin Tenniswood studying Vitamin D and prostate cancer.
  • Margo Gebbie, a biology major at UAlbany originally from Vermont, who is studying breast cancer in the Conklin Lab.
  • Jessica Hovancik, a student at the University of Connecticut, who is studying DNA damage responses in cells in the Begley Lab.
  • Alicia Lee, a Bronx native and student at Union College, who spent the summer conducting research in the Conklin Lab.
  • Joe McMullen, a student at the University of Notre Dame, who is studying Vitamin D and prostate Cancer in the Tenniswood Lab.
  • Matthew Mullins, a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who spent the summer studying in the Tenniswood Lab.
  • Alicia Salinero, an Albany native and student at Hampshire College, who is studying DNA damage and Vitamin D in the Welsh Lab.

Located on the University East Campus in Rensselaer, N.Y., the CRC is unique among academic cancer research centers in North America in that it has strong ties to a school of public health. Faculty at the Cancer Research Center are dedicated to providing a collaborative research environment within the UAlbany School of Public Health and its affiliated Wadsworth Research Laboratories of the New York State Department of Health to foster the training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in cancer biology.

Note: The Cancer Research Center, located at One Discovery Place in Rensselaer, N.Y., will offer tours on Wednesday, August 11 from 3-4 p.m. and on Wednesday August, 25 from 10-11 am.  Participants will tour the facility and visit laboratories where researchers are working on breast and prostate cancer and improved chemotherapeutics. To register, call (518) 591-7209.

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Karen Torrejon, '10, majoring in chemistry and physics
UAlbany Students

During one of her first experiences in a research laboratory, University at Albany senior Karen Torrejon knew instantly that she was wanted to be a scientist.

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