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1. Leann Murphy in laboratory
2. Christian Wichterman and Dylan Downs in laboratory

July 22, 2009

Area Students Experience Research Internships at SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute

Three area college students are building critical experience in laboratory research through a new program offered by the SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  This is the first summer that the internships have been offered.

The students are learning basic lab techniques with faculty supervision during the internship.  “We anticipate that this will be the beginning of a program at SCCI that encourages college students who have an interest in cancer research and helps them evolve as they continue their education,” said Morris D. Cooper, Ph.D., professor and chair of medical microbiology, immunology and cell at SIU School of Medicine.

“The internships give these outstanding college students a chance to experience the thrill of discovery that motivates the best researchers and decide whether that path is right for them.  For us, being questioned by bright but young minds forces us to continually re-examine our assumptions and consider new possibilities,” added Randolph Elble, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmacology and a member of the SCCI research team.

The interns are –
Dylan Downs, Jacksonville, is a student at SIU Edwardsville majoring in biology-medical science with a minor in chemistry.  Downs is working with Elble.

Leann Murphy, Rochester, is a student at Bradley University in Peoria, majoring in cellular and molecular biology.  Murphy is assigned to Edward Gershburg, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology and an SCCI researcher.

Christian Wichterman, Springfield, attends Washington University in St. Louis.  He is majoring in biology with a minor in mathematics.  Wichterman is working with Andrew Wilber, Ph.D., assistant professor of urology, and Sophia Ran, Ph.D., associate professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology.  Both are SCCI researchers.

The newly-created internships began June 1st and pay a $5,000 stipend for the summer.  Preference was given to college students who plan a career in medicine with the intent of working in cancer research.  The positions were awarded on a competitive basis.

The SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute at SIU is focusing the medical school’s efforts in cancer research, physician and public education, and treatment for patients from across central and southern Illinois.  Its new three-story building will consolidate SIU’s multi-disciplinary cancer clinics along with research and outreach service programs when it opens, pending release of operational funds from the State of Illinois.  The Institute’s Web site is and its phone number is 217-545-6000.


1.  Leann Murphy (right) and Edward Gershburg, Ph.D., in an SCCI research lab
2. (left to right) Andrew Wilber, Ph.D., Randolph Elble, Ph.D., Christian Wichterman, Dylan Downs and Sophia Ran, Ph.D., in an SCCI research lab