Landing a Blow in the Fight Against Cancer

With one in three Americans afflicted or affected by cancer at some point in their life, it’s never been more important to focus on making progress against this deadly disease. Julia Maxson ’05 has done just that – with her recent research garnering accolades and publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“I was extremely fortunate to be so well prepared for graduate school by engaging in an excellent undergraduate biology curriculum and having research opportunities offered at the W. M. Keck Science Department,” says Maxson, who majored in biology as an undergraduate at Scripps College.

Maxson earned a doctorate degree in cell biology in 2011 and is now conducting research at the Knight Cancer Institute in Oregon as a post-doctoral fellow. Her investigations are focused on searching for new drug targets in leukemia, and those results are popping up in peer-reviewed academic journals like the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Four abstracts focusing on her work have been presented at important national gatherings.

The summa cum laude graduate credits two Scripps College professors for nurturing her interest in science.

“Emily Wiley was an incredible research mentor to me at Scripps,” she says. “I fell in love with molecular biology research working in her lab. Her enthusiasm and support were driving factors in my decision to pursue a graduate degree.

“Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert was also a formative scientific mentor and academic advisor. At the end of my first year, she invited me to come and do research in her lab. I don’t think it would have occurred to me to start research so early in college if she hadn’t opened the door for me.”

For everyone hoping the key to curing cancer is on the near horizon, we are thankful that lab door was opened.