June 22, 2021

Grandmother’s health journey leads Abigail Fielder to Cancer Biology Graduate Program

Abigail Fielder’s pathway to pursuing a doctorate at the Wayne State University School of Medicine began with an early love and interest in medicine, and an opened door that coincided with a personal yearn for a cancer cure. 

Abigail Fielder

“My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer while I was in high school and while her story is one of triumph as a survivor, the memory of what my grandmother endured remains with me to this day,” she said. “While I was grateful for the doctors and the therapeutics being used back at home to combat her cancer, I decided then that when I got older I would do more. I could not simply hold my breath knowing that I could be an integral part in the search for a cure for all those diagnosed. I want to contribute to improving oncology therapeutics, and better understand the factors that affect cancer and its treatment, and find ways to combat, prevent and cure the disease.”

Fielder is an incoming doctoral student who will begin her studies in the school’s Cancer Biology Graduate Program this fall. She was selected by WSU’s Graduate School for one of five Dean’s Diversity Fellowships this year. The fellowship supports exceptional incoming doctoral students with three years of funding. Nominated by their programs and chosen by a Graduate School committee, fellows are pioneers in their fields, exploring tough questions and conducting research to better the Detroit community and beyond.

“It felt almost surreal. Receiving my letter of offer felt like the culmination of all the early mornings, late nights and sacrifices made during my time as an undergraduate. I am truly excited to have been selected, and I look forward to what is ahead,” Fielder said.

A native Detroiter, Fielder earned a dual bachelor's degree in biological sciences and romance languages with a concentration in Spanish from WSU in 2020. She volunteered teaching English in the Latino community through La Casa Guadalupana, a nonprofit committed to providing family literacy and education training opportunities in southwest Detroit, and was a student in the Initiative to Maximize Student Development program, designed to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to pursue biomedical academic careers. As a part of the latter program, she worked as a research assistant at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit in the Animal Model and Therapeutic Evaluation Core.

She applied to the Cancer Biology Graduate Program because of the depth of invaluable experiences already afforded her at WSU, she said.

“I am interested in cancer epidemiology among health disparities, and I hope to bring my passion for research and my love for people together to make an impact in the medical field, particularly in underrepresented areas. I also have deep roots in the City of Detroit and wanted to continue my studies here. I believe my journey will culminate in life-altering education and life-saving breakthroughs right here at Wayne State,” she said.

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