This summer, undergraduate students from across Kentucky and beyond participated in a 10-week UK program preparing them for research careers.

The Markey Science Training in Research, Oncology, Networking and Professional Growth (STRONG) Scholars program provided opportunities for shadowing and mentorship with Markey Cancer Center experts, networking and career development activities, and in-depth research experiences. The summer program ended with a poster session, where students could present their work to peers.

Markey Cancer Center Education Coordinator Erin Oakley, PhD, said some of the Markey STRONG participants plan to submit abstracts and share their research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists (ABRCMS) meeting, which will take place in Phoenix, Ariz. in November.

Markey STRONG Scholars is a program supported by funding from the American Cancer Society, the UK Diversity and Inclusion United In True racial Equity (UNITE) Research Priority Area, the UK College of Medicine Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Markey Cancer Center, and the Markey Cancer Foundation.  

Student presenters are listed below along with their undergraduate institution, their near-peer mentors, and faculty mentors from across the University of Kentucky. Photos from the poster session are also included below.

Helicobacter pylori cag T4SS Activity Stimulates Epstein-Barr Virus Reactivation from Latency in Gastric Adenocarcinoma

Student Presenter: Armour Akanmu, Kentucky State University
Near-Peer Mentor: Mackenzie Ryan
Faculty Mentor: Carrie Shaffer, PhD, Department of Veterinary Science, College of Pharmacy

Examining Prph2a and Prph2b Mutants in Zebrafish Photoreceptors 1

Student Presenter: Andrew Ballard, Transylvania University
Near-Peer Mentor: Meet Patel
Faculty Mentors: Jakub Famulski, PhD, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

The Impact of Tobacco Marketing Exposure on Positive and Negative Expectancies of Flavored Tobacco Among Youth and Young Adults

Student Presenter: Jocellyn Banks, Norfolk State University
Near-Peer Mentor: Gabrielle Romines
Faculty Mentor: Shyanika Rose, PhD, Center for Health Equity Transformation, Department of Behavioral Science, College of Medicine

The impact of doxycycline on the gut microbiome and its implication in the development of Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome

Student Presenter: Mehdi Bennis, Illinois State University
Near-Peer Mentor: Delphine Malherbe
Faculty Mentors: Ilhem Messaoudi Powers, PhD, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, College of Medicine

The Role of PTPRF in Regulating c-MET Inhibitor Sensitivity in Colorectal Cancer Cells

Student Presenter: David Bierly, Western Kentucky University
Near-Peer Mentor: Carolina Galeano-Naranjo
Faculty Mentor: Tianyan Gao, PhD, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, College of Medicine

The Role of Nurses in Addressing the Financial Toxicity of Cancer Patients and Caregivers: A Literature Review

Student Presenter: Sofia Bonilla, University of Kentucky
Near-Peer Mentor: Mackenzie Caldwell
Faculty Mentor: Jean Edward, PhD, College of Nursing

Gold-Based Small Molecule Suppresses Myc Expression and Inhibits Triple Negative Breast Cancer Stem Cells

Student Presenter: Jordan Campbell. Xavier University of Louisiana 
Near-Peer Mentor: Chibuzor Olelewe
Faculty Mentor: Samuel Awuah, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Financial Toxicity and Cost-Related Health Literacy in Kentucky AYA Cancer Survivors

Student Presenter: Haafsah Fariduddin, University of Kentucky
Faculty Mentor: Jean Edward, College of Nursing

NHE1 Inhibitor Reduces Self-Renewal Leukemia-Initiating Cells of T-ALL: Potential Mechanism by Mitochondrial Alterations

Student Presenter: Joanne Jung, Asbury University     
Near-Peer Mentors: Majd Al-Hamaly
Faculty Mentor: Jessica Blackburn, PhD, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, College of Medicine 

P4HA1 Regulation CCL7, CCL9 Expression in Mammary Epithelial Cells

Student Presenter: Amia Liddell, Savannah State University
Near-Peer Mentor: GaoFeng Xiong     
Faculty Mentor
: Ren Xu, PhD, Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences, College of Medicine

Fear as a Barrier to Cervical Cancer Screening Amongst Black Women

Student Presenter: Princess Magor Agbozo, University of Kentucky
Near-Peer Mentor: Charis Ebikwo
Faculty Mentor: Adebola Adegboyega, PhD, College of Nursing

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and White Matter Integrity in People Who Smoke

Student Presenter: Donavyn Mosley, Kentucky State University
Faculty Mentors: Seth Himelhoch, MD, MPH, and Gopalkumar Rakesh, MD, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine 

Investigating Targeted and Epigenetic Therapies for EGFR Mutated Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and a Look at Altered Neutrophil Phenotypes Upon EZH2 Inhibition

Student Presenter: Riya Patel, University of Kentucky
Near-Peer Mentors: Christian Gosser, Avery Childress 
Faculty Mentor: Christine Brainson, PhD, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, College of Medicine

Social Determinants of Health and Cancer Screening among Hispanic Adults in Kentucky

Student Presenter: Veronica Rojas, Asbury University
Near-Peer Mentor: Jessica Amezcua
Faculty Mentor: Juan Canedo, DHS, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine 

Integrin α6β4 Upregulates Laminin Subunit Expression in Breast Cancer 

Student Presenter: Daryn Seals, University of Kentucky
Near-Peer Mentor: Andrew Elliot
Faculty Mentor: Kathleen O’Connor, PhD, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, College of Medicine

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence in the Characterization of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Student Presenter: Erika M. Skaggs, University of Kentucky
Near-Peer Mentor: Tanner DuCote
Faculty Mentor: Christine Brainson, PhD, Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, College of Medicine