Amy Deng '12, one of Winthrop’s top chemistry students, can remember exactly when she fell in love with cancer research: during her 2010 summer undergraduate research experience with Takita Sumter, associate professor of chemistry.
Without that experience, Deng might not have ended up at the Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program (SHURP), run by Harvard University Medical School’s Division of Medical Sciences. SHURP, a prestigious and highly exclusive program, trains future physicians and scientists. Deng spent summer 2011 at Harvard learning from some of the best scientists in the field of cancer biology, including her mentor, William Hahn, M.D., Ph.D., deputy chief scientific officer and chief of molecular and cellular oncology. Deng’s role in her research there was to identify, validate and investigate genes that are required for cancer cell growth.
Cancer research can be challenging, but Deng said that the complexity is what she enjoys most about her chosen field.
“I think what I like the most in cancer research is that I am constantly reminded how complicated this disease is and how little I know about it,” said Deng, a double major in chemistry (with a concentration in biochemistry) and biology at Winthrop. Deng said that her time volunteering at Piedmont Medical Center’s oncology unit, where she interacted with cancer patients and their families, also pushed her toward a career in cancer research.
Now a Winthrop graduate who earned the Tillman Award, given at graduation to the student who most consistently met the demands of academic excellence and had the highest grade point average, Deng is attending Duke Medical School in the medical degree/Ph.D. program. Her long-term goal is to have her own laboratory in a medical school or affiliated hospital to conduct transitional research that helps bridge the gap between medicine and research.
Deng credits her professors for helping her succeed and inspiring her passion for research. Her biggest supporters have been Sumter, who taught Deng “how to conduct research and how to be an independent-thinking scientist”; Pat Owens, chair of the Department of Chemistry, Physics and Geology, who encouraged her to get involved in research and has offered continuous support; and Jason Hurlbert, assistant professor of Chemistry, who taught Deng many lessons in- and outside of the classroom.
“I am extremely lucky to be mentored by these amazing professors,” Deng said.
Last updated: 05/17/2013