“Fighting Breast Cancer
in the Lab and on the Street”
While many college students her age spent their summer folding shirts at the Gap or waiting tables, UMBC student Erika Danna spent her break studying the blood, spleen cells, and immune systems of lab mice as part of the fight against a killer. Meanwhile, Greg Small made the daily commute to the University of Maryland, Baltimore to investigate how cells nurture blood vessel formation in tumors and John Jackson spent long summer days at UMBC examining enzymes that could be used to attack tumor growth.
Danna, Small, and Jackson are part of a group of future scientists getting hands-on experience fighting breast cancer in the laboratory through the BCURE, or Breast Cancer Undergraduate Research Experience, Program at UMBC. BCURE is funded by the Department of Defense (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. The Program is directed by UMBC’s Biological Sciences department under the leadership and guidance of award-winning professor and cancer researcher Dr. Suzanne Rosenberg and her colleagues at UMBC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
This summer, eight BCURE Trainees learned real world research skills through training internships with leading area cancer researchers and stipends supported by DOD and UMBC. From the basic vocabulary of cancer to the fine art of presenting research, these undergraduates have blossomed into budding researchers. Some students continue to get their lab coats dirty, part-time, through this academic year to make significant contributions in the research labs of their mentors. Their research experiences will culminate this spring when the BCURE Trainees present their research projects during the first UMBC Breast Cancer Research Day.
As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Week in October, these three BCURE Trainees took the fight to the streets of Baltimore in Oct. 13s Maryland Race for the Cure to support breast cancer education and research through the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Danna, Small and Jackson were joined by Dr. Rosenberg and BCURE Program Coordinator Kathy Sutphin for the 5K walk. The BCURE team donned custom T-shirts, met at sunrise, and proceeded to PSINet Stadium to join thousands of Marylanders in the fight against breast cancer. The group raised donations and broadened their awareness of the women and their families devastated by this deadly disease.