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June 27, 2012                                                 

College Students Learn from Cancer Researchers Through SIU Internship Program

Four college students have started work in the labs of cancer researchers this summer at Simmons Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (SCI). Focusing on future careers in the medical field, the students will learn basic laboratory techniques with supervision during the internship program.

The undergraduates were chosen on a competitive basis for the internship which was created in 2009 at SCI. This year, it has expanded from three to four internships and includes a Carbondale researcher.

“More than 20 individuals applied for the program,” said Morris Cooper, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology. “We were very pleased to have some of the best and brightest apply for these positions. We hope that this experience steers them toward a career in cancer research.”

The 2012 interns are:

● Morgan Echols, a senior at SIU Carbondale from Murphysboro. Echols will be assigned to work with Dale “Buck” Hales, Ph.D., professor of physiology, who is doing research on ovarian cancer in Carbondale. Hales was recently awarded a five-year federal grant totaling $1.8 million. (This is the first time that the Carbondale campus has been included in the program.)

● Anne Showalter, a junior at Culver-Stockton College from Springfield. Showalter is majoring in biological chemistry and is interested in pharmacy and possibly pharmacological research. She participated in the Genomics Research Initiative funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a freshman. Showalter has been assigned to work with Daotai Nie, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology, on the Springfield campus. Nie’s research is in the areas of prostate and breast cancer. He currently has prostate cancer research grants totaling $1.1 million and breast cancer grants that total more than $650,000.

● Mitchell Elting, a senior at SIU-Edwardsville from Macomb. Elting is a biology medical science pre-med major who wants to practice family medicine or general surgery. He cites the loss of a young cousin from leukemia as being instrumental in his pursuit of a career in medicine and the impact of cancer on other relatives for his interest in cancer research. Elting will be working with Randolph Elble, Ph.D, assistant professor of pharmacology. Elble's grant funding totals $763,875 for breast cancer research.

● Mariah Sisson, a junior at Illinois College in Jacksonville from Virden. Sisson is a biology major who wants to work as a pediatric oncologist after medical school. Sisson will work with Edward Gershburg, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology. Gershburg’s lab studies the Epstein-Barr virus and explores its possible link to cancer development. His grant totals $99,335.

The mission of Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU is to serve the people of central and southern Illinois by addressing their present and future cancer needs through education, research, patient care and community service. Its website is