Most of you are probably aware of the intraductal research the Dr. Susan Love Foundation conducts. But I bet far fewer of you know about our unique student internship program, which not only helps advance our research but provides valuable opportunities to students who are considering a career in science or medicine.

Julianne Tondre, a 23-year-old graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, began working at the Foundation during her second year of college. A biology major, Julianne has done everything from conduct literature reviews to assist me and Dr. Dixie Mills during ductal lavage procedures.” When I started at the Foundation,” Julianne says, “I wasn’t certain that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. But the work that I’ve done has solidified for me that that is indeed what I want to do. It’s also been amazing to be on the cutting-edge of research. I’d never had that opportunity before, and I know that it might never happen again.”

Tinh Nguyen, 23, graduated from UCLA earlier this year with a degree in psychobiology. He joined our internship program 18 months ago. “I was drawn to the Foundation because the work was new and innovative,” Tinh says. “I’d heard so much about breast cancer, and I’d seen the pink ribbons. But this opportunity opened up my eyes to how difficult and important it is to get funding for this type of research.”

Not only do the students get to be involved in our research projects, they get credit and recognition for what they do. In March, our students presented the poster “Technical Enhancements to Breast Ductal Lavage” at the Society of Surgical Oncology annual meeting, and in April they won a “Special Recognition of Outstanding Poster Abstract” award at American Society of Breast Disease annual meeting for the Foundation’s poster presentation, “Macrophages are Associated with Cellular Atypia in Ductal Lavage of Pre-Menopausal Women.” In addition, earlier this month, members of our student program attended an Undergraduate Student Caucus at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, where they had a unique opportunity to meet prominent cancer researchers and discuss important issues relevant to scientific research and career development.

In response to the increased interest in our work-study program, we have recently formalized its structure. This will not only allow us to be better mentors, but will give our students an even deeper understanding of the research process. The students will begin by learning about our study protocols and attending weekly journal club and research meetings. They will then move on to watching procedures and learning how to process specimens. With this knowledge in hand, they will be able to initiate a pre-approved project, present at journal club meetings, and begin assisting with procedures. In their third and final year at the Foundation, they will also initiate and assist with abstract and article submissions.

If you know an undergraduate or recent college graduate in the Los Angeles area who you think might be interested in our internship program, please have them send an email to Research@dslrf.org to request a program application. Please be sure to let them know the Foundation’s internships are unpaid and require at least a two-year commitment.

The Foundation is as committed to ending breast cancer in our lifetime as it is to helping ensure that the next generation of doctors and scientists are not only excited about research but learn how to ask the big questions that can lead to the big discoveries that will reshape the ways in which we think about breast cancer and other diseases.

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