Student Mentored in Georgetown Lombardi Lab Wins Goldwater Scholarship
Posted in GUMC Stories
JULY 31, 2014—A Georgetown undergraduate who has been researching one of the most common and devastating pediatric brain tumors at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (new window) has been awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.
Sarah Waye (C’15), a rising senior, has been honored for her research under the tutelage of her mentor, Christopher Albanese, PhD (new window), a professor in the Departments of oncology and pathology at Georgetown University Medical Center (new window) for her research on medulloblastoma, a tumor that develops most often in children.
Medulloblastoma is a cancer that arises from stem-like brain precursor cells that fail to develop into a designated function (blood, eye, heart etc.). Waye says after completing her undergraduate work, she plans to extend her research by crossing into the field of stem cell and regenerative biology.
Researchers say adult stems cells can be controlled in the laboratory and could potentially be used to repair damaged tissue.
“I think that stem cell research is really the key to the future of medicine,” Waye says. “My specific hope for the future of stem cell research is that it can be used to do what was previously thought impossible, which is to fix the brain and nervous system,” she adds.
Albanese describes Waye, a native of Marietta, Georgia, as fearless in her research, and an excellent public speaker, teacher and mentor.
“As she enters her senior year in my lab, Sarah will be completing the experiments that will ultimately lead to at least two first-authored papers,” he says. “These papers, along with co-authored manuscripts with other members of my group and her stellar academic credentials, will certainly be testimonials to her dedication to research.”
Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program (new window) in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. The scholarships recognize undergraduate scientists, engineers and mathematicians who plan to pursue a career in research upon graduation.
Waye is one of five undergraduates from her home state to win a Goldwater Scholarship this year.
Albanese says that, despite having little experience in cancer research when she first started in his lab, Waye has “immersed herself in the intellectual background of and methodological approaches required” for her projects.
“Sarah has continued to impress me with her energy, enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and perseverance,” says Albanese.
Validation of a Passion
Waye says the scholarship has helped validate her decision to pursue a career in science.
“I think that winning a Goldwater has helped not only to motivate me to continue my research, but also to confirm that I’m on a path that I have a passion and skill for,” she says. “My specific hope for the future of stem cell research is that it can be used to do what was previously thought impossible, which is to fix the brain and nervous system.”
By GUMC and Georgetown University Communications