January 24, 2007

Cornellian’s Cancer Research Earns Award

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Thomas J. Bardos left the rubble of his home country, Hungary, after WWII to start again in the United States. After earning a Ph.D in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame, Bardos made his home at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he earned a professorship lasting 33 years until 1993. For his dedication to the future of cancer research, the American Association for Cancer Research has awarded 19 undergraduates from all over the country with the AACR-Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Award for the past two years. This year, one winner is Cornell’s own Erin M. Dauchy ’08.

Medical News Today described the award as a way “to maintain the flow of keen minds into the research talent pool.”

Candidates for the award must be third-year science majors at a college or university. The Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Award is the highest honor given to undergraduates by the AACR.

Dauchy’s research has earned her this prestigious award, which entails a prize of $3,000 that can be used for further research. She will receive the award at the 100th annual meeting of the AACR this April in Los Angeles, which, according to a press release, will be the largest cancer research meeting in the history of science. The AACR states the awards are intended “to inspire young science students to enter the field of cancer research and provide an unique educational opportunity for these students in the development of their careers in science.”

Dauchy will present her qualifying work, the “Anti-cancer Effects of Melatonin and Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Inhibition of Fatty Acid Transport in Human Cancer Xenograft-Bearing Nude Rats Occur via Receptor-Mediated Signal Transduction,” at the meeting. She began research on the project just last year, and grew both prostate and head and neck tumors in nude rats. Nude rats have no immune system, and thus do not reject human tumors. The rats were then given two different diets — a corn-oil diet, modeled after the typical American diet, and a fish-oil diet, which, according to previous research, prevents tumor growth. She then measured the growth rate of the tumors.

“It’s never been done before,” she said.

Dauchy conducts her research in Cooperstown, N.Y., at the Bassett Research Institute under the direction of David E. Blask, M.D. She has worked there since her sophomore year of high school.

“I work on weekends, and over breaks — basically I have no life,” she joked. Dauchy also finds time to act as President of Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority and is a board member of Cornell’s CALS Ambassadors Program.

On receiving the award Dauchy said, “I am very excited. I put a lot of work into this project.” Dauchy, a biology major, plans on pursuing a career in medical oncology and cancer research.

“First, I want to go to medical school,” she said. “I plan on staying in New York.”