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For some, a career in oncology might be a difficult commitment to make, but for Marietta College’s Lauren DeLong ’19 she sees it as a chance to connect with patients, build relationships and give them hope.

“Yes, it can be sad, but it’s also rewarding if you can help people,” says DeLong, who recently earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. She plans to eventually attend medical school.

DeLong already has shadowed doctors at the Strecker Cancer Center in Marietta and this summer she will complete a 10-week internship in a Johns Hopkins University lab where she will help study whether there’s a genetic component to pancreatic cancer. Johns Hopkins University is a private research university located in Baltimore, Maryland.

“At Strecker, I worked in the wig center and chemotherapy unit, and I was able to talk to patients and hear their stories,” she says.

DeLong, who is also interested in pathology, will work to extract DNA from patient cultures at Johns Hopkins. Post-doctoral students will then use that DNA in their research.

Her opportunity at Johns Hopkins comes thanks to a Marietta College collaboration. Dr. Kevin Pate, McCoy Professor of Chemistry, learned a Marietta native currently working at Johns Hopkins was looking to offer unpaid internships to Marietta students.

Dr. Laura D. Wood grew up in Marietta and remembers getting help with science fair projects from Dr. Bob Walker, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry.

Wood, who also happens to be DeLong’s cousin, now works as Associate Professor of Pathology & Oncology, and serves as the Associate Director of Research Affairs, GI/Liver Pathology, at the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, located within Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“I hope that the summer internship experience that I organized with Dr. Pate will provide MC students with a unique perspective on medicine and biomedical research,” says Wood, whose parents are Marietta College alumni. “Johns Hopkins is world renowned for the depth and breadth of its clinical and research enterprises, and thus a summer here can provide an enriching educational experience.

“I hope that these experiences will help them to refine their own career goals and also enhance their applications as they apply to graduate or medical school,” she says. “I am also very grateful to the donors that Dr. Pate identified, as it will allow the students to engage in this rewarding experience without the financial hardship of an unpaid internship.”

Pate knew of a resource that could help cover the costs of Marietta students while they worked at Johns Hopkins.

“A lot of things had to come together to make this internship opportunity happen, and thankfully I was in the right place at the right time,” Pate says. “In one hand, I was just presented an unbelievable opportunity for Marietta students to spend a summer working (for free) at one of the premier medical schools in the world. In the other hand, I (knew of) money that was supposed to help Marietta students get into top-tier graduate and medical schools.”

That money will come from the Krause Endowment, a fund set up to support Marietta College students seeking entrance into medical schools. It was determined that two $4,500 stipends would be available to send two students to fill unpaid internship spots in two different John Hopkins labs.

Initially the request was made for one student, but after a little prodding by Pate, a second lab agreed to host a second Marietta student. Cameron Dowiak ’19 will also complete an internship at Johns Hopkins this summer. She had previously spent months interning in Yale University’s School of Medicine.

“Both of these students are highly deserving of this opportunity, and selecting one of the other would not have been something I would have wanted to do,” Pate says.

Dr. Richard Krause, a 1947 graduate of Marietta College, created the endowment to help Marietta College students go on to top-rated medical/graduate schools. Krause was renowned for his work in infectious disease and for a time he served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Washington, D.C. In the early 1980s, his work drew attention to emerging concerns such as Lyme Disease, HIV/AIDS and Legionnaires’ Disease.

Pate says adding an internship at Johns Hopkins will benefit Marietta students.

“Dr. Krause wanted Marietta College graduates to go on to top medical schools,” Pate says. “An opportunity like this will open doors.”

- Jennifer Folwell