Grad student will present new cancer findings at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Author: Grant Johnson

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Biological sciences graduate student Joshua Mason has been selected to attend the 2017 National Graduate Student Symposium (NGSS) at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Selection in the NGSS is extraordinarily competitive as application is by invitation only. Over 1,500 students were invited to apply for the 2017 symposium of which only 42 students, including Biochemistry grad student Carolyn Shirey, were selected to participate. Mason and the other selected participants will receive an all expenses paid trip to St. Jude this Spring where they will give a talk, present a poster, and meet with St. Jude scientists.

Mason plans to discuss his recent discovery regarding the survival of cancer cells. “We have found that multiple different cancer types require a unique protein, SGK-1, in order to promote ATP generation and survival during ECM-detachment using a distinct and novel mechanism.” As a result of this finding, “SGK-1 may serve as a master regulator for ATP generation and survival of metastatic cancer cells and may serve an efficacious therapeutic target to specifically eliminate metastatic cancer cells.” These are very exciting findings as an excess of 90% of cancer-related deaths are due to metastatic cancer.

Mason is very excited for the opportunity. “Participation in this symposium at St. Jude will act as a catalyst to my career progression, as it indicates that I can perform, analyze, and communicate quality science with leaders in the scientific community.”

Mason’s research was conducted in the laboratory of Dr. Zachary Schafer, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences and Coleman Foundation Collegiate Chair of Cancer Biology, and member of the Harper Cancer Research Institute. Speaking about Mason’s selection to participate in NGSS, Schafer said, "I am very proud of Josh's work in the lab and his growth as a scientist. His selection to participate in the NGSS at St. Jude is a much deserved and tremendously prestigious honor that serves as a testament to all he has accomplished during his time at Notre Dame."

Founded in 1962, the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for catastrophic pediatric diseases through research and treatment. All children are able to receive treatment, regardless of a family’s ability to pay for the medical services.