Meet the 2024 SUCRE Fellows

Fourteen college students are now in New Orleans, starting their eight-week summer fellowships working under the direction of LCRC faculty at LSU Health New Orleans, Tulane University School of Medicine, and Xavier University of Louisiana. They are the second cohort to participate in the LCRC's Summer Undergraduate Cancer Research Experience (SUCRE), which was established last year.

About half of the fellows are locals attending LSU, Tulane, and Xavier. Others hail from as far away as Michigan State, Johns Hopkins University, Pennsylvania State University, Baylor, Union College, and the College of Wooten.

"This year's program is very competitive. Our cohort of selected summer fellows is highly qualified and engaged. They were selected from a large pool of applicants, and many applied to our program for very specific reasons. They are eager to roll up their sleeves and learn alongside LCRC faculty, and many already plan to pursue postgraduate work in cancer research," said Charles Wood, PhD, who oversees the program. Dr. Wood is also a member of the LCRC faculty, a Cancer Crusader Professor, Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology, and Associate Director of Basic Science at Stanley S Scott Cancer Center at LSU Health New Orleans. “It is our hope that they return and pursue their post-graduate degrees here in Louisiana.”

Several fellows shared their career goals:

Emma Bates, a junior at Union College, is working under te guidance of mentor Jennifer Fang, PhD of Tulane University, who is investigating e development of blood vessels in healthy tissues and how diseases like cancer can disrupt that development. After college, Emma hopes  to travel to England to pursue a PhD or MD/PhD in the field of pediatric brain cancer.

Tulane Junior Brandon Burow is working in the lab of Dr. Hari K. Koul, professor and interim head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at LSU Health New Orleans. His research focus will be on the effect of PDEF on prostate cancer cells that have been treated with Enzalutamide and become androgen independent.

Xavier senior Kayla Gant is already a  certified phlebotomist, pharmacy technician, and Immunizer, and her goal is to become a full physician-scientist.  Her mentor is  Dr. Jayalakshmi Sridhar, who is designing an effective nanocarrier system using a synthesis of Smart Dual Acting Drug Delivery System that aims to target overexpressed TAM receptors on tumor cells and deliver the therapeutic through nanomaterials to increase the bioavailability and decrease chemotherapeutic toxicity.

Paige Goderis, Michigan State,  is considering post graduate work in microbiology, cancer biology, or  related field.  Her mentor is LSU Health New Orleans Professor Qiang Shen MD, PhD,  who leads a team working on multiple breast cancer-related projects. Paige is assisting a graduate student in the lab, aiming to uncover the mechanisms that a known cancer-killing compound uses to kill cancer cells, with the hope that it will eventually become suitable for drug clinical trials.

Randy Hamilton wants to pursue an MSPH after he graduates from Xavier.  He is studying under  Dr. Qingzhao Yu, LSU Health New Orleans Assistant Dean of Research in Biostatistics,  looking at data on prostate cancer and the factors of its determinants to try and quantify some specific causes towards its occurrence.

Madison Jackson, a junior from Pennsylvania State University, wants to learn more about how cancer proliferates, the mechanisms behind the treatment options available and what kinds of experiments need to still be done to treat the disease under the direction of LSU Health New Orleans Dr. Maria Sanchez-Pino. They are investigating how inflammatory immune cells, such as Myeloid-derived suppressor cells contribute to the development of obesity-related cancer.

Last year, LSU junior Giancarlo Lara volunteered at the LCRC under the guidance of Tulane’s Dr. Maria Morales in the cell analysis core lab. “She taught me various lab techniques and so that I could see if I wanted to go into research. Clearly, it was effective as I came back as an official member of the program,” he says.   This year Giancarlo is working in the lab of Zhen Lin MD PhD, Tulane  associate professor and technical director of molecular pathology.

Aliyah Richardson, a senior from Xavier, applied to SUCRE to learn more about biomedical research. She wants to pursue a PhD in epidemiology, so her assignment with Epidemiologist Xiao-Cheng Wu, Associate Professor of Public Health at LSU Health New Orleans,  studying cervical cancer and its effect on minority groups in Louisiana, should be a perfect fit.

Tya, an LSU senior,  is working under the mentorship of Michael Hagensee, MD,  PhD, LSU professor of medicine, testing for HPV in vaginal cancer tissue and categorizing HPV genotypes found in HIV-positive individuals after college. She plans to pursue her medical degree, possibly specializing in Neurology or Dermatology.  

The program culminates in a poster session during which each Fellow presents their work.  For more information about the LCRC’s summer research program, click here.

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