BAR HARBOR, MAINE – An undergraduate from the University of Maine at Fort Kent will be the first participant in a new drug development and clinical summer research program at Eastern Maine Medical Cancer (EMMC) Cancer Care offered through Maine INBRE, a statewide biomedical training and research network led by the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Biology major Jessica Kozachuk will learn about cancer care during the 10-week program for students from the Universities of Maine at Fort Kent and Presque Isle. Under the guidance of EMMC Cancer Care mentor scientists, she will also participate in pre-clinical research on medicines to treat leukemia and lymphoma and in research involving industry-sponsored patient clinical trials for cancer treatments.
As leader of the Maine INBRE program, the MDI Biological Laboratory has provided biomedical training for more than 2,100 Maine students since the federally funded program’s inception in 2001. Most of that training has been in basic research. The new partnership will broaden the program’s scope by providing opportunities to work in drug development and clinical research.
“As a community-based cancer center and hospital, we have a strong commitment to the community,” said EMMC Cancer Care senior research scientist Lindsay Shopland, Ph.D., education director and an INBRE program mentor. “We’re very interested in developing Maine’s workforce. This program will give students from northern Maine a chance to learn about our work to advance cancer research.”
Shopland, who grew up in rural New Hampshire, said participation in such programs can be an eye-opening experience for rural students who aren’t aware of the many exciting careers that are available in science.
“Both campuses have strong practical biomedical training programs — Fort Kent in nursing and Presque Isle in medical technology,” said James A. Coffman, Ph.D., director of the Maine INBRE program and an associate professor at the MDI Biological Laboratory. “The EMMC Cancer Care partnership will provide valuable experience for students interested in pursuing clinically oriented biomedical careers.”
The pilot program could potentially be expanded in the future to students from the other Maine INBRE institutions, Coffman said.
The partnership will also benefit EMMC Cancer Care by introducing more students into the institution’s laboratory culture.
“Students are invigorating — they bring new ideas and new understanding and a lot of youthful energy,” said Shopland, who launched the student program at EMMC Cancer Care, which also includes students from Bangor High School and the University of Maine. “They force their mentors to explain things, which keeps us grounded in the fundamentals. We learn every time we teach.”
The goal of the Maine INBRE program is to strengthen Maine’s research and development economy by providing hands-on laboratory training for Maine undergraduates and research funding for early-career scientists. Educational offerings include summer research fellowship programs and one- or two-week intensive courses. The program is funded through the National Institutes of Health.
About the MDI Biological Laboratory
Our scientists are pioneering new approaches to regenerative medicine focused on drugs that activate our natural ability to heal, and that slow age-related degenerative changes. Our unique approach has identified new drugs with the potential to treat major diseases, demonstrating that regeneration could be as simple as taking a pill. As innovators and entrepreneurs, we also teach what we know. Our new Center for Science Entrepreneurship prepares students for 21st century careers and equips entrepreneurs with the skills and resources to turn great ideas into successful products. For more information, please visit mdibl.org.
About Eastern Maine Medical Center Cancer Care
Eastern Maine Medical Center Cancer Care, located at the Lafayette Family Cancer Center in Brewer, Maine, combines the expertise of hematology, medical oncology and radiation oncology to deliver state-of-the-art, high quality, compassionate care. EMMC Cancer Care provides consultation and treatment for malignant diseases and blood disorders under one roof. Experts work closely together to plan the best streamlined, efficient care and support for pediatric and adult patients. EMMC Cancer Care is pleased to offer advanced treatment options close to home for people in our communities. We are now a proud member of the Dana-Farber Cancer Care Collaborative. For more information, please visit Cancer.EMMC.org.