Notre Dame of Maryland University student Fidelia Asomani has been named one of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s 2021 Pediatric Oncology Student Training (POST) Program grant recipients.
Through this program, Asomani and 11 other students across the country received an undisclosed amount of grant funding to join a lab research project focused on pediatric oncology. The grant funding comes from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.
Northwestern Mutual Foundation officials say they remain dedicated to finding better treatments and cures for childhood cancer and supporting children and families affected by the disease.
Since 2012, the organization has supported the fight against childhood cancer through its Childhood Cancer Program by donating more than $35 million to support families and survivors and has funded over 455,000 hours of research with partners like Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and other nonprofit organizations across the United States.
The funds from Northwestern include $60,000 for the POST program to support undergraduate, graduate, and medical students through eight weeks of research with top analysts in the field of pediatric oncology. It allows students to gain more valuable experience while also helping advance the treatment options and research for childhood cancer.
“The POST Program means so much to me,” Asomani told the Baltimore Times. “It has allowed me to gain hands-on lab experience that I had missed during the pandemic and connect with top researchers in the Pediatric Oncology field. The POST Program has taught me so much that will further my career as a future physician-scientist.”
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation officials say they are “fighting childhood cancer, one cup at a time.” The foundation has a mission to change the lives of children with cancer through funding impactful research, raising awareness, supporting families, and empowering everyone to help cure childhood cancer.
Since 2005, the foundation has provided more than 1,000 medical research grants to nearly 150 institutions across the United States and Canada.
The grants provide students interested in pediatric oncology the opportunity to train under a research mentor for the summer. The mentors, who are top researchers in the pediatric oncology field, provide students with hands-on experience in the lab, encouraging them to pursue careers in that field.
The students receiving grants work with their mentors at several different institutions across the country.
September represents National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and foundation officials say they wish to spotlight programs like POST. Although it’s the leading cause of death for children under 19, according to the National Cancer Institute, childhood cancer research only receives four percent of funding from the federal cancer budget.
To continue the search for a cure, Northwestern Mutual, through its foundation, supports the next generation of pediatric cancer researchers through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s POST Program.
Asomani graduated from Notre Dame of Maryland University this past May with a degree in biology, with plans to explore the career path of a physician-scientist. After watching her godmother suffer through chemotherapy, Asomani was inspired to research innovative therapies with less toxicity. Her coursework in college reportedly further ignited her desire to conduct cancer research, participating in student research and volunteering at local area hospitals.
This year, Asomani worked in Dr. Linda Resar’s lab at Johns Hopkins University to study HMGA proteins and their role and function in pediatric cancer.
“I believe that the work I have done in Dr. Resar’s lab has been impactful in understanding the molecular regulation of aggressive pediatric leukemias. I am happy that my results will contribute to targeted gene therapies that help children and their families,” Asomani said, adding that she is thankful for the opportunity provided by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Northwestern Mutual.
“I believe the growth I have exhibited throughout the program exemplifies the need for opportunities and programs like this that mentor aspiring researchers.”