Funds Support Expansion of Breast Cancer Research
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(BOWIE, Md.) – Dr. Jaqueline Smith became the first ever Bowie State professor to earn the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) CAREER grant, which is awarded to early-career faculty members that are recognized as academic role models in research and education.
Dr. Smith, a chemistry professor in the Department of Natural Sciences, was awarded $799,425 over five years for her breast cancer research and joins the short list of HBCU professors that have received one of the NSF’s most prestigious grants. Almost 5,000 CAREER grants were awarded between 2017-2022, and HBCUs have only received 15 of those grants in that period.
“This vaildates that quality research can be conducted at a HBCU,” said Dr. Smith. “NSF is now interested in diversifying their recipients.”
Dr. Smith’s research has focused on binding molecules to valosin-containing protein (VCP), which plays a key role in extending the life of unhealthy cells in the body and leads to breast cancer. Dr. Smith hopes her research into regulating the behavior of VCP can be used to prevent cancer that is resistant to treatments from coming out of remission and spreading throughout a patient's body.
“People who have breast cancer can have a treatment and feel like they’ve become cured,” said Dr. Smith. “But in five to ten years, the cancer can come back and comes back more aggressively. These compounds are trying to prevent that recurrence from happening.”
The CAREER grant also comes with an educational component, which Dr. Smith will use to fund summer science programs for high school students designed to introduce them to college-level research in areas like biochemistry and molecular biology.
“We’re going to have a summer bridge program for high school students to start to do research in the biomedical field,” said Dr. Smith. “They’ll come to Bowie State and be able to be acclimated with the campus, get some math courses and science workshops accomplished so they can have more success transitioning from high school.”
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