Cancer Research by Augustana Grad Featured in National Journal

A study on therapeutic targets for breast cancer co-authored by an Augustana alumna is featured on the cover of a national scientific research journal.

The project, "Multiple Functions of Sushi Domain Containing 2 (SUSD2) in Breast Tumorigenesis," part of the thesis project by Allison (Eslinger) Watson, class of 2007, is the cover story of the February 2013 issue of Molecular Cancer Research, a monthly journal published by the American Association for Cancer Research.

Watson, now a student at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine's Physician-Scientist (MD/PhD) Program, says her interest in medical research was sparked during her time at Augustana as a Biology major.

"I owe much of my current success to the Biology department at Augustana. My interest in science and medicine was fueled by the enthusiasm and excitement for research I experienced while part of the Biology department. The devotion to development of student researchers at Augustana is absolutely unmatched. I had the opportunity to connect with world-class scientists [and] was encouraged and supported throughout my journey. I owe much of my success to many wonderful mentors in the Biology department. Dr. Maureen Diggins [professor emerita of Biology] played a large role in encouraging me, even as a young student, to explore options for scientific research in Sioux Falls through the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN). After realizing my dreams for pursuing a career that would allow me to influence both clinical and research aspects of breast cancer, Dr. Paul Egland [associate professor of Biology and chief health professions adviser] and Dr. Michael Wanous [professor of Biology and associate academic Dean] helped me get into the Physician Scientist program at the Sanford School of Medicine," Watson said. "The Biology department at Augustana has mastered the perfect balance between nurturing and pushing students to succeed, which fosters the development of some outstanding young scientists that will inevitably remain emotionally and academically attached to the department for years!"

After graduating from Augustana in 2007, Watson entered the MD/PhD program at USD, a program in which students complete two years of medical school curriculum, followed by three years to complete a Ph.D. in the Basic Biomedical Science department. The final two years of the program are designated for completion of the third and fourth years of the medical school curriculum. Watson successfully defended her thesis dissertation in May of 2012 and then re-entered the medical school curriculum in Sioux Falls.

"My thesis focused on breast cancer, specifically the identification and characterization of a gene involved in the immune system’s recognition and response to breast tumors. I was under the direction of Dr. Kristi Egland of Sanford Research."

"I feel very passionately about the impact the Augustana Biology department has had on my own development as a Physician-Scientist!"