Focus

 

 

The Next Generation to Look for a Cure

Dartmouth students explore their calling as cancer researchers

Norris Cotton Cancer Center launched an organization last month that involves Dartmouth College students in learning what it is like to spend your career investigating a cure for cancer. Over the course of two terms, the Dartmouth Cancer Scholars organization offers a select group of pre-med students a glimpse of the extraordinary rewards of being a physician scientist studying cancer.

Focus article photo

A Scholar presents his research.

What it is like to be a cancer researcher

There was a low hum of activity as more than two dozen students settled into the eighth floor Board Room with notebooks open before them and over-stuffed backpacks at their feet. They were writing in their words what they had come to learn:

  • The biological and human dimension of cancer
  • How to initiate and execute a research project with an idea of what I want to research myself
  • The state of cancer treatment technology
  • The proximate and ultimate cause of cancer in children
Photo: Mark Israel, MD, Director Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Mark Israel, MD, Director, Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "The very smartest people today are engaged in cancer. We draw the best minds. It is an amazing field."

Moving scientific discovery into patient care rapidly

Students in the Dartmouth Cancer Scholars program are considering Dartmouth's MD/PhD program and others, which offer training in basic sciences and patient care to accelerate the implementation of new knowledge into routine care. Whenever new discoveries are made, they've learned the goal is to move findings from the laboratory to the bedside as quickly as possible.

Attracting talent to cancer research

The first person to challenge the young scholars was Mark Israel, MD, Director, Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "The very smartest people today are engaged in cancer. We draw the best minds. It is an amazing field," said Dr. Israel.

On the second week the scholars heard about the essential patience and joy of research from Yolanda Sanchez, PhD. Dr. Sanchez described how the major discoveries she has made in her laboratory fuel her continued curiosity as a cancer investigator.

The cancer researchers of the future

Five weeks into the experience the 35 students indicated their interest in cancer has increased by an average of 59 percent. Norris Cotton Cancer Center designed this learning experience to seed the imaginations of the next generation of researchers, who may very well one day be the ones who find the keys to curing cancer once and for all.

November 07, 2011