Dana M. Gant, MS, BS

Graduate Student
North Carolina Central University
Kannapolis, North Carolina

Abstract 1123. c-Met downregulation contributes to Metformin-induced inhibition of MDA-MB-468 triple-negative breast cancer cells. 

What are your long-term goals? 

Long term, I seek to merge my love for cancer research, health disparities, and clinical research to serve as a clinical scientist with an organization whose mission and values will allow me to be a catalyst for change and progression in cancer research. It is my goal to bring light to the importance of diversity and inclusion within the clinical cancer research space by using my scientific knowledge and oncology expertise to serve as a liaison between those members of underrepresented communities and the scientist and clinicians responsible for the research. Additionally, I am passionate about STEM education within minority and underrepresented communities. As such, I have founded the STEMming for Success brand which has an Enrichment Program component, as well as a Mentoring Program for Girls. I believe as an African American woman scientist, it is my responsibility to show black and brown children that reaching heights they may believe are unattainable are absolutely possible. With guidance, mentorship, and education, I will equip our children to be the STEMM leaders of tomorrow. 

Please share information about how the pandemic has impacted your research over the last two years. 

Matriculating through my PhD program during the pandemic has been confusing, stressful, and mentally taxing to say the very least. I finished classes, and passed comps in the Fall of 2019; after which – spring of 2020 – I was finally able to fully dedicate myself to the lab and my benchwork, not knowing that a pandemic was looming on the horizon. I was able to get four months of work completed (which, within the lab/science world, we know means I was not able to complete anything). At that point, I felt like the rug was totally pulled from under me. I had just secured a three-year funding grant, and I had no idea what the future held. I suffered from depression and anxiety, and I honestly almost threw in the towel. When restrictions began to lift, we were allowed to stagger lab shifts, allowing for about four to five hours of lab time a day – again, not enough time to get much of anything completed. However, I pushed through the depression, anxiety, isolation, and uncertainty, and in spite of having (basically) missed out on an entire year of fruitful bench work, I began making headway at the beginning of 2021. In the scientific community, time and production are always of the essence, especially as a PhD student; unfortunately, no one was able to plan for a global pandemic. I look back on the last 2.5 years, and there are so many things I can say, but, the only thing that is worth saying is that I am extremely grateful. Grateful that God saw fit for me and my family to remain safe and protected, especially knowing how many lives were lost, and how many families were negatively affected by COVID-19. I am grateful that I am still on track to defend my dissertation this summer, without the need for extra funding; and I am grateful to my support system for not letting me throw in that towel. If I can obtain a PhD in the midst of a global pandemic, I can do just about anything, and I am excited to take this resilience with me as I move into the next phase of my professional life.