Encouraging Inquiring Minds

Pelotonia Fellowships Help Students and Trainees Pursue Cancer-Research Interests

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the Pelotonia Fellowship Program is fueling interest in cancer research among Ohio State students at all levels of training.

The program enables promising students who might one day become independent cancer researchers to explore their interests in the labs of faculty mentors. The program had awarded 225 student fellowships by the end of 2013. The awardees included 99 undergraduate students, 59 graduate students, four medical students, 48 postdoctoral fellows and 15 international scholars.

The awards are made by a Pelotonia Fellowship Committee that includes some of Ohio State’s most distinguished cancer researchers. Visit the program website for information about all fellowship recipients to date. Here’s a glimpse at three recent recipients.

Daniel Brook

Daniel BrookEarning a Pelotonia fellowship was a personal goal for Daniel Brook, a junior in biomedical science who plans to attend medical school and become a physician scientist.

During his first year of college, Brook, a Cincinnati native, joined the lab of OSUCCC Director and James CEO Michael A. Caligiuri, MD. There, he gained enough experience to apply for the fellowship.

His project investigates the effect of the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene on the rate of cancer development within an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) mouse model developed by the Caligiuri lab. Brook also is working to obtain evidence “for the hypothesis that MLL acts like a tumor suppressor in our mouse model.”

A member of the Triathlon Club at Ohio State, Brook has ridden the full 180-mile circuit in Pelotonia 11, 12 and 13.

Monica Lindgren

Monica LindgrenWhile working with cancer patients and families at a James-affiliated outpatient clinic that provides end-of-life psychotherapy services, Monica Lindgren saw how depression can affect patients’ responses to cancer.

“These experiences sparked my interest in the effects of depression and social support on treatment adherence and quality of life among cancer patients with less-advanced disease,” says Lindgren, a graduate student in Psychology. Her mentor is Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, a Distinguished University Professor of Psychiatry and of Psychology at Ohio State and a member of the OSUCCC - James.

Lindgren’s project examines how depression, social support, treatment adherence and quality of life influence one another in breast cancer patients. She hopes her work will lead to psychological and behavioral interventions for patients.

Lindgren, who has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina, plans to become a clinician and researcher in academic psychiatry.

Even with no bike training, she rode 50 miles in Pelotonia 13 and plans to ride this year.

Kara Keplinger, MD

Kara KeplingerColumbus native Kara Keplinger MD, is working to become a surgical oncologist at the OSUCCC – James and is taking a two-year hiatus from her Ohio State surgical residency to study basic science relating to oncology.

She joined the lab of Matthew Ringel, MD, co-director of the Thyroid Cancer Unit at the OSUCCC – James. “Dr. Ringel’s lab is exploding with ideas and projects,” Keplinger says.

Her project evaluates the effectiveness of new agents to treat papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), the most common type of thyroid cancer. “My project will help determine whether these molecular inhibitors might be useful for PTC,” Keplinger says.

She says her experience as a rider in Pelotonia was like no other. “There was an intense energy at the ceremony and the day of the ride that made my fellowship feel more personal,” she explains. “It makes me want to push harder at my project. I can’t wait for the next ride.”

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