Five students complete cancer research fellowships at WVU Cancer Institute

Five students complete cancer research fellowships at WVU Cancer Institute

Five undergraduate students completed cancer research fellowships at the WVU Cancer Institute this summer.  

Cassidy Bland, River Hames, Eric Lundstrom, Joseph McGuire and Patrick Thomas will share their research findings with peers and mentors during a symposium at the WVU Cancer Institute’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center atrium at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 3. 

The highly competitive Summer Research Fellowship Program at the Cancer Institute provides funding and opportunities for undergraduate students who want to pursue careers in cancer research or medicine. Students receive a $4,000 stipend and are paired with a WVU cancer scientist for a 10-week research project.

Cassidy Bland studied how exosomes, fluid-filled sacs released from tumor cells, alter the function of immune cells. The knowledge gained from this research can be applied to create enhanced immunotherapies. Her mentor was David Klinke, PhD, in the WVU Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology.  Cassidy is the daughter of Jeffrey and Cheryl Bland of Wellsburg. She is a junior at WVU and is majoring in biomedical engineering.

River Hames studied the molecular mechanisms of head and neck cancer. His mentor was Scott Weed, PhD, in the WVU Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. River is the son of Lori Montague and Michael Hames of Morgantown. He is a junior at WVU and is majoring in biology.

Eric Lundstrom studied how stem cells from fat together with tumor cells stimulate interleukin-6 and other pro-inflammatory genes, which could contribute to obesity-related breast cancer survival. His mentor was Linda Vona-Davis, PhD, in the WVU Department of Surgery. Eric is the son of Wayne and Wendy Lundstrom of Morgantown. He is a senior at WVU and is majoring in biology.

Joseph McGuire studied the role of OVOL and GRHL genes as part of the process by which  cancer spreads to other parts of the body. His mentor was Alexey Ivanov, PhD, in the WVU Department of Biochemistry. He is the son of Catherine Mullens and Bernard McGuire of Philippi. He is a junior at WVU and is majoring in biology.

Patrick Thomas studied how the metabolism of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common malignancy among children, changes when the cancer cells are in the bone marrow.  His mentor was Laura Gibson, PhD, senior associate vice president for the WVU Department of Research & Graduate Education. Patrick is the son of Joe and Tammy Thomas of Hurricane.  He is a junior at WVU and is majoring in biochemistry.

Financial support for the fellowship program comes from the Edwin C. Spurlock Fellowship Fund, the Edward L. Reed Cancer Research Endowment, the Dr. David B. McClung Cancer Research Endowment Fund, and the Joe Marconi Cancer Research Fellowship Endowment.

For information on the fellowship program at the WVU Cancer Institute, see wvucancer.org/education/Undergraduate.

Photo caption: (From left to right) Joseph McGuire, Cassidy Bland, River Hames, Patrick Thomas and Eric Lundstrom