UIC biological sciences student named Goldwater Scholar

Deborah Park - Goldwater Scholar

Deborah Park, senior in biological sciences, is focused on cancer metastasis research.

A University of Illinois at Chicago undergraduate student focused on cancer research has been recognized for her academic achievement by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence Foundation.

Deborah Park, a senior majoring in biological sciences in the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is the latest UIC student to receive the prominent $7,500 scholarship that will cover tuition, books and related fees during the 2016-17 academic year.

More than 250 recipients in mathematics, science and engineering were selected from a field of 1,150 qualified nominees for the Goldwater scholarship, named for the late Republican senator from Arizona.

Park, a member of the UIC Honors College and the Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions (GPPA) in medicine, has conducted research with Dr. Guofei Zhou, assistant professor of pediatrics in the UIC College of Medicine, on biomarkers for early detection of malignant lung cancer and potential treatments for metastatic tumors in lung cancers.

Her professional goal is to be a physician-scientist with an active laboratory in the field of cancer biology with a focus on metastasis, the spread of cancer cells within the body.

“The prospect of uncovering the mechanisms within cancer metastasis in order to develop novel methods for early cancer detection and future therapeutic strategies is captivating,” says Park, a resident of Deerfield, Illinois. “Patients with metastatic cancer have particularly poor survival, making tumor metastasis the leading cause of cancer. If we could uncover the pathways behind cancer metastasis, we could potentially turn a systemic disease into a localized and treatable one.”

Through an internship and the Cancer Research Training Award at the National Institutes of Health, Park is spending the summer studying cancer metastasis alongside Dr. Christina Stuelten at the Center for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

Other notable awards for Park, a 2014 graduate of the Illinois Math and Science Academy, include the Great Lakes National STEM scholarship and the American Association for Cancer Research’s 2016-17 Thomas J. Bardos Science Education Scholar Award for Undergraduate Students.

Park is the recipient of multiple university honors and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Last year, she was among 10 students selected to represent UIC during University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Day in Springfield, where students present their research to Illinois lawmakers to demonstrate the importance of undergraduate research.

She serves as chief communications officer for the Journal for Young Investigators, a peer-reviewed online publication featuring undergraduate scientific research from around the world.

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