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Queen’s graduate students are paying it forward

When PhD students Piriya Yoganathan and Mathieu Crupi learned that funding for the Queen’s Transdisciplinary Training Program in Cancer Research would be challenged in 2018, they couldn’t sit back and watch the program close.

“The Transdisciplinary Program is what attracted me to Queen’s,” says Piriya, “it’s such an invaluable program, and having been through it, Mathieu and I feel passionately about making sure that it continues.”

Piriya and Mathieu were already co-chairs of the Kingston Research Information Outreach team – a club affiliated with the Canadian Cancer Society – when they decided to work together to find a solution to the Transdisciplinary Program’s unstable future funding. Along with a group of their fellow students, they dreamed up the idea of a fundraising dinner that would bring in new funding for the program.

The Daffodil Gala, which is the product of months of hard work and planning, will take place on February 3rd at the Isabel Bader Centre and members of the Kingston and Queen’s community are welcome to attend. “I am astounded by the enthusiasm that our trainees feel for their work, their studies and their program,” says Lois Mulligan, Professor and founder of the Transdisciplinary program. “The Daffodil Gala, and the initiatives to support the Training Program have been completely driven by the current students. They are passionate about giving the next generation opportunities to experience what they have; they are an exceptional group in every way. The future of cancer research and cancer care is in good hands with these people.”

I have already bought my tickets, and I invite you to join me in supporting this fantastic initiative. For more information or to purchase tickets to The Daffodil Gala, click here.

Founded in 2002, the Transdisciplinary Program is an incredibly unique program that brings together young cancer researchers who would not normally work in the same environment, and together they function as a multidisciplinary team. These young investigators, including undergraduate and graduate students and fellows, then receive interdisciplinary training including courses, professional skills development, and hands-on research experience that spans the breadth of cancer research today. The students also have the opportunity to work with faculty mentors, who could come from any of 11 departments at Queen’s and KGH, as well as from the School of Business and the Office of Global Health.

“Our students get the chance to learn from each other as well as faculty mentors and other cancer experts,” says Lois. “One of the most exciting aspects of the Transdisciplinary Program is having the students in one area of research explain to others in completely unrelated areas why their work is important and exciting. The cross fertilization is amazing and helps drive future collaborations and communication.”

The result is graduates who are exceptional researchers with a broad understanding of cancer. Because of the nature of the program, they are equipped to communicate their research ideas, and help to speed the application of scientific advances into clinical practice, patient care, and cancer prevention. According to Lois, 90% of graduates have gone on to further training or careers as clinicians, or in cancer research and cancer control. Mathieu plans to be a part of that statistic when he graduates this year: interested in lung cancer research, he plans to pursue a postdoc, and to eventually become a professor.

As always, please share your thoughts by commenting on the blog, or better yet, drop by the Macklem House…my door is always open.

Thank you to Jen Valberg for her assistance in preparing this blog.

Howard Gottlieb

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 12:22

These are the kind of stories that should be published and promoted more. Whether its people raising money for needy people or good causes or volunteering these are the examples that everyone should agree are ones we want everyone to focus on.

Howard Gottlieb

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