October 27, 2009

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 80, Issue 5

NU receives breast cancer grant

Dr. Mary McCourt, chair and associate professor of chemistry (center), accepts a %150,000 grant from the Avon Foundation for Women at the seventh annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City on Oct. 11. She is pictured with Carol Kurzig, president of the Foundation (left), and Suze Orman, the foundation's special ambassador.

Dr. Mary McCourt, chair and associate professor of chemistry (center), accepts a %150,000 grant from the Avon Foundation for Women at the seventh annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City on Oct. 11. She is pictured with Carol Kurzig, president of the Foundation (left), and Suze Orman, the foundation's special ambassador.

The seventh annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer took place in New York City on Oct. 10-11. It was the foundation's eighth such walk this year.

Of the 4,000 participants, Dr. Mary McCourt, chairman of the chemistry, biochemistry and physics department, was present to accept a prestigious, $150,000 research grant.

It was a very powerful experience, I was very humbled that they chose us she said. Niagara University is one of eight schools and organizations nationwide to receive a grant from the Avon Foundation for Breast Cancer Research.

Amongst some of the recipients, Niagara University fell in next to NYU Cancer Center, Columbia University, and St. John's Riverdale Hospital. McCourt's research will be conducted over the course of two years in which she and collaborator Dr. Lawrence Mielnicki, The Research and Teaching Laboratory manager at Niagara University and an expert in breast cancer tumors, will examine metabolites in urine samples in an effort to detect breast cancer molecules.

This test, however, will not replace mammogram testing instead it will be a pre-screening in which if breast cancer molecules are found in the urine sample, then the women would go in to get a mammogram. This type of screening will cut costs for women who may not have health insurance and help communities that do not have high-tech equipment to detect breast cancer.

Apart from detecting the disease this research will also focus on placing, biomarkers that will enable doctors to detect the stage of the cancer. This will be useful during treatment as it will provide an earlier test for changes that occur in women with breast cancer Mielnicki said.

Knowing the changes as soon as possible will dictate the course of treatment, since in some it may show that the therapy is working well and in others not as well. Doctors can immediately change treatment. During this project, McCourt and Mielnicki will have a small team of undergraduate students working with them in the investigation: all are chemistry and biochemistry majors. Senior Brittany Sumbler, juniors Charles Smith and Haley McClory, and sophomore Christopher Wirth will be partaking in the project as part of their undergraduate research at Niagara University.

Dr. Nancy McGlen, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences says, This will be a great opportunity to expand Niagara University's student - faculty research model to a very important health issue.

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