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First Cancer Research Scholars Program (CRSP) Cohort Complete Program

To expand our future culturally competent, cancer-focused workforce, members of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center in collaboration with faculty from the College of Allied of Health Sciences, have established a new cancer-focused Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) known as the Cancer Research Scholars Program (CRSP).  Funded by a 5-year R25 grant from the National Cancer Institute, the program’s focus offers unique and inspiring paid research and educational experiences for qualified summer undergraduate scholars from Cincinnati and across the nation. The purpose of the Cancer Research Scholars program is to:

  • Excite and engage scholars in cancer-focused research.
  • Encourage undergraduates to enter career pathways in cancer care and cancer research.
  • Support scholar development as they apply for and enroll in cancer-focused training programs.
  • Expose scholars to community outreach and engagement by offering firsthand experience working with community partners.

The first summer 2022 cohort enrolled undergraduates from 8 states and 2 countries spanning 13 universities.  Diversity is a salient feature of CRSP:  6 of the scholars are underrepresented minorities, 7 students are enrolled at UC and 3 are enrolled at Xavier University. 

Scholars were matched with 21 research faculty mentors:  5 from Cincinnati Children’s and 16 from the University of Cincinnati.  According to PI Dr. Melinda Butsch Kovacic, MPH, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean of Research in the College of Allied Health Sciences, the associated Cancer Mentor Network is essential to the success of the program.  She explained that the mentor network "adopts a systems-over-silos approach that covers the entire cancer continuum including cancer etiology, prevention/screening/health promotion, clinical cancer research and survivorship."

On Thursday, August 4, 2022, program graduates showcased their research at the Capstone Poster Symposium along with other SURF participants in MSB.  Scholars and poster titles are detailed below:

  • Naomi Akagha: “Validation of L1-CAM as a Marker for Neuron-derived Small Extracellular Vesicles”
  • Bael Al-Khatib: “Validation of Lycorine and Radiation Toxicity in In-Vitro HNSCC Tumoroid Culture”
  • Lana Arbili: “Identifying Modifiable Barriers to Equitable Oncologic Outcomes in Minority Patients Requiring Complex Surgical Procedures “
  • Farah Barakat: “The Response of Glioblastoma Cell Lines to Epigenetic Targeting Chemotherapeutics”
  • Allison Barto: “Study of the role of a newly identified enhancer RNA binding protein, DHX36, on ER target gene transcription”
  • Uma Basole: “A System to Evaluate BRAC2 Variant Pathogenicity in Human Cells Utilizing a Flow Cytometric Assay”
  • Gavin Beegan: “Exosomal EGFR as a Biomarker of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma”
  • Sarah Been: “Barriers to Accessing and Receiving Cancer Screening & Healthcare”
  • Camden Berry: “The Role of SOX11 in Proliferation and Survival of ET02/GLIS2-rearranged Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia”
  • Megan Bones: “Evaluating Cytotoxicity of the Small Molecule NSC319726 in Cellular Models of Stage 3 Clear Cell Renal Carcinoma”
  • Tiffany Comberger: “Novel Radiosensitizers in Head and Neck Cancers”
  • Ibrahim Jazieh: “Crosstalk of Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) and Protein Kinase (PKA) Signaling Regulating Adaptive Metabolism in Pancreatic Cancer”
  • Omar Jazieh: “The Effect of H3 K27M Mutation on the Migration of DIPG Cells”
  • Serena Larose: “Role of MED1 in HER2+ Breast Cancer Therapeutic Drug Resistance”
  • Katelyn Lesniak: “The feasibility of microbial cell-free DNA detection in immunocompromised hosts using next generation short-read and long-read sequencing”
  • Judith Llaurador: “Plasma levels of EGF and IRAK-1 involved in Graft-vs-Host Disease and overall survival following pediatric HSCT”
  • Shawn McAllister: “Elucidating Fatty Acid-induced Hepatocyte Cell Death in Steatosis”
  • Lauren Mestas: “Tissue Factor Expression in GNAQ Q209L mutant Endothelial Cells in vitro and in vivo”
  • Briley Park: “Examination of the Effect of HER3 Mutational Status on MET Inhibition in Colorectal Cancer”
  • Prina Patel: “The Helping Children with Loss Instrument (HCWL-I): Instrument Development and Validation for Construct Validity of the Treatment”
  • Barbara Tyler: “Characterization of Hepatitis B Virus Genotypes in Mozambique”

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University of Cincinnati
Cancer Center

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Cincinnati, OH 45267
Phone: 513-558-2177
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