By Nadine Matthews
Special to the AFRO
Congratulations to Notre Dame of Maryland University student Fidelia Asomani, who was recently named one of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s 2021 Pediatric Oncology Student Training (POST) program grant recipients.
Through this program, Asomani and eleven other students across the country are awarded grant funding to join a lab research project focused on pediatric oncology. According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, “Of the billions of dollars spent annually in cancer, only 4% is directed toward treating childhood cancer.”
The grant funding, from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation along with the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, will support undergraduate, graduate and medical students through eight weeks of research experience with top researchers in the pediatric oncology field, allowing students to gain more valuable experience while also helping advance the treatment options and research for childhood cancer.
Asomani, whose family was personally touched by cancer, recently spoke with the AFRO via email.
AFRO: How did you come to hear about and apply for the grant?
FA: I heard about the grant from my mentor Dr. Linda Resar while I was interning in her lab.
AFRO: What is your background in science? From what age did you know you wanted to pursue a science career?
FA: I recently graduated with a BA in Biology from Notre Dame of Maryland University. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in science when I was thirteen. In middle school, I joined many STEM-based after-school activities where I was exposed to different scientific fields. It was here that I discovered my interest in biology specifically.
AFRO: What city did you grow up in?
FA: I grew up in Frederick, Md.
AFR: Your most memorable experience so far in your studies of science?
FA: I would say that the POST Program is the most memorable experience of my scientific studies. This opportunity allowed me to explore various research techniques and connect with research professionals that have inspired my journey.
AFRO What made you interested in the area of pediatric oncology? Within that area is there a specialty that you are currently particularly interested in exploring?
FA: After studying cancer in my undergraduate courses and learning about the difficult side effects children endure from these rare cancers, I became very interested in pediatric oncology. Through my involvement with the POST Program and Dr. Resar’s lab, I have specifically been exploring pediatric leukemia.
AFRO: What were some of the emotions you experienced as you saw your godmother battled cancer? And how did that strengthen your resolve to study the disease?
FA: Watching my godmother battle cancer was very sad and frightening. Her pain after treatment was the most difficult part to witness. However, her perseverance throughout treatment and constant support of my academics inspired me to study cancer.
AFRO: What type of perspective do you hope to bring to cancer research that may not currently exist?
FA: I hope to bring a perspective that highlights serving underrepresented communities and the hardships they face. Two issues that I am passionate about concerning underrepresented communities and pediatric oncology is one, representation in research. To better understand how cancer impacts minorities, they need to be included in trials and studies. Secondly, these same communities often lack the resources needed to diagnose and treat cancer which worsens their outcomes compared to privileged communities.
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