April 13, 2017

Cancer Biology research symposium spotlights student-led discoveries and innovations

Pictured from left is Leonard N. Simons Award for Exemplary Research and Scholarly Achievement recipient Jonathan Diedrich, Simons' daughter Mary Lou Zieve and Diedrich's mentor Izabela Podgorski, Ph.D. Visit the Wayne State University School of Medicine Facebook page for additional photos.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine Cancer Biology Graduate Program held its seventh annual symposium in the Margherio Family Conference Center. The March 31 event highlighted the research accomplishments of the program's Ph.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students, who described their dissertation projects through oral and poster presentations.

The symposium, a tradition that began when the Cancer Biology Graduate Program found a permanent departmental home in the Department of Oncology, provides an opportunity for scientific and social discourse between students and faculty.

"I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation to the Cancer Biology Graduate Program faculty, judges and students who participated in the annual research symposium," said Program Director Larry Matherly, Ph.D., who also is the Eunice and Milt Ring Endowed Chair for Cancer Research and a professor of Pharmacology and of Oncology. "Their support of the students within the program as judges, faculty mentors and advisors is what makes the program and the events we offer a tremendous success. It couldn't be done without their commitment to the program."

An awards ceremony was held at the end of the day, with fifth-year doctoral student Jonathan Diedrich receiving the inaugural Leonard N. Simons Award for Exemplary Research and Scholarly Achievement. He is mentored by Izabela Podgorski, Ph.D., associate professor of Pharmacology. Diedrich developed a novel and clinically-relevant dissertation project on metabolic adaptation of prostate tumors in bone. Diedrich's time at WSU has been marked by awards, including a fellowship supported by the long-running T32 grant in Cancer Biology and an F31 individual fellowship, both from the National Cancer Institute.

Simons' daughter, Mary Lou Zieve, was in attendance to present the award to Diedrich in tribute to her father, who died in 1979.

"My father was an industrious advocate for our community, helping to raise millions of dollars for worthy causes," Zieve said. "For more than 50 years, he was actively engaged with the Michigan Cancer Foundation and Karmanos Cancer Institute, so creating this award in his name is very fulfilling. I think he would be honored to know that his lifelong commitment to research and education will continue to inspire the next generation of scientists in perpetuity."

To be nominated for the award, students must have attained Ph.D. candidacy status and have completed at least two years of study toward the doctoral degree in Cancer Biology.

In addition to the Simons Award, honors were also given in oral and poster presentation categories. The winners:

Oral Presentation
First Place - Joshua Heyza
Second Place - Brooke McKnight

Poster Presentation
First Place - Rayna Rosati
Second Place - Thomas McFall
Third Place - Brittany Haynes and C James Block

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