Like many Associate Members - from a very early age, I understood that the mechanistic insights obtained at the laboratory bench could have very tangible implications for improving someone’s life. It was this understanding that fueled my desire to become a research scientist. At Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, I had the opportunity to do undergraduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Mary Miller for 3 years wherein I studied the role of G1 cyclins in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In addition to learning the basics of pipetting, I watched in awe as Dr. Miller balanced grants, classwork, and research, all while earning tenure and starting a family. Armed with her example, I subsequently completed my graduate work in Dr. Paul Khavari's lab in the Cancer Biology Department at Stanford University utilizing in vivo mouse models as well as in vitro models of human tissue. The major component of my dissertation work focused on tumor-selective scaffold proteins in the ERK/MAPK signaling cascade and was published in Nature Medicine. Furthermore, there is active work being done on the preclinical drug development of a novel, deliverable, and cell-and-tissue penetrating anti-cancer peptide that was borne out of this study. After my graduate career, I worked as a postdoctoral research fellow with Dr. Vito Quaranta and Dr. Thomas Yankeelov in the Cancer Biology Department at Vanderbilt University wherein I used novel metrics of tumor response to explore biomarkers of drug response in non-small-cell lung cancer. In early 2015, I made a career transition into biotech to work as a Medical Science Liaison focused on solid tumor therapeutics with Janssen Services Affairs, a division of Johnson & Johnson. This role afforded me the opportunity to learn about roles in Medical Affairs and serve as a compound subject matter expert and medical meeting lead. More recently in August 2017, I accepted a position as an Executive Medical Science Liaison with the SUNY Buffalo spin-off, Nanobiotix. This late stage clinical company headquartered in Paris is pioneering nanomedicine and in this role I will be organizing coverage of the US southern region for the global medical affairs team. Every day, I look forward to the time I will spend discussing cancer research with colleagues.
While I have been extremely lucky in elusive “right-place-right-time” situations, I recognize that many early-stage scientists have not. We work in a highly competitive field, but I can think of no better reward then being a catalyst in another student’s journey – to be part of an experience that shaped their career that they look back upon as “luck.” I look forward to being a member of this prestigious council and advocating for all AACR Associate Members. Thank you for this opportunity.