UNC PhD student blogs for Nature

Stephani Page, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics, is a member of the Bourret/Silversmith Lab in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. She recently blogged about her experience advocating for science on Capitol Hill.

This is an excerpt from the Nature blog, "Soapbox Science."

When a patient is diagnosed with a form of cancer which has the potential to significantly shorten his lifespan, his life takes on a different meaning.   He looks at himself in the mirror, small and frail, and decides to do what it takes to make it through this trial.  Not too long ago, this was my father.  I am the only scientist in my family and, as such, I know that cancer patients, even those who have treatment options, face difficult battles ahead.  Chemotherapy drugs, while potentially adding years to a prognosis, can ravage the body.  Research often focuses on finding new chemotherapy drugs, making current drugs more effective, and minimizing the side effects.

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  One of the labs in my department actually assisted in the development of a chemotherapy drug prescribed for my father’s pancreatic cancer.  For many years I had struggled to explain to my family (made up of homemakers, lawyers, career military, teachers, nurses, etc.) what I do as a scientist and why what scientists do is important.  Suddenly, my family needed no further explanation.

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