Undergraduate student spends summer at St. Jude working to end cancer

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July 21, 2018

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While some students are taking a break from their studies this summer, Reid Palumbo, a second year Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) and pre-med student, will be heading to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Palumbo is one of 50 students who were selected to spend 11-weeks at the hospital as a part of the prestigious Pediatric Oncology Education (POE) internship program.

Dr. Sharyn Baker, professor and Gertrude Parker Heer Chair of the college’s Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry encouraged Palumbo to apply for the internship after working with him in her lab. Dr. Baker’s lab focuses on preclinical development of anti-cancer agents for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with an emphasis on tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) drug combinations. Prior to working at Ohio State, Dr. Baker was an associate member and director of Pharmacokinetics Shared Resource at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

“I encouraged Reid to apply for the POE program at St. Jude as I thought his education and training could truly be enriched by the experience,” Dr. Baker said. “This program is very competitive, and I would only recommend our brightest.”

After applying and going through the interview process, Palumbo was extended an invitation. Beginning in May, he will travel to Memphis, experiencing the program alongside some of the best and brightest undergraduate and medical students in the country. The focus of the program is to expose students to clinical and laboratory research, matching them with a member of the St. Jude faculty. Palumbo will work as a full time research assistant with Esther Obeng, MD, PhD, a highly esteemed molecular oncologist and recipient of numerous awards and recognitions.

“There is no doubt that this program will be one of the most challenging things that I have ever done,” Palumbo said. “This internship is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will be one of the defining moments of my undergraduate career.”

Over the course of the program, each student must work on a research project under the guidance of their mentor, presenting their findings at the end of the 11-weeks. Though all of the students must present and submit a report, not all students will be published with their mentors. This is one of Palumbo’s personal goals.

“To be published with Dr. Obeng would be a huge accomplishment I hope to achieve this summer,” Palumbo said. “I also hope to gain more knowledge, make connections, and share ideas with many of the established molecular professionals at St. Jude. I know that what I learn during this program will stay with me through the rest of my career, and I am incredibly fortunate to receive this opportunity.”