UD student one of 10 nationally to study pediatric oncology via grant

Myanah Keys says experience help her understanding; program targets students who could make future research breakthroughs

University of Dayton student Myanah Keys recently was one of 10 students nationwide to receive a grant to take part in research for pediatric oncology.

The cohort of researchers were sponsored through Northwestern Mutual’s Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation 2022 Pediatric Oncology Student Training (POST) Program. The program offers $50,000 to support 10 undergraduate, graduate, or medical students through an eight- to 10-week training program, pairing them with mentors who are conducting research in the field of pediatric oncology.

“I’m extremely grateful to have been selected as a POST Program grant recipient and for the valuable experiences that helped set a foundation for my future career as a physician,” said Keys, who is a UD senior studying biology. “Through the research and mentorship offered during the 9-week program, I now have a better understanding of the challenges in pediatric oncology.”

As a recipient of this year’s POST Program grant, Keys conducted research in the Center of Biobehavioral Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where she gained experience with recruitment, data collection, management and analyses, as well as direct interaction with families and children affected by childhood cancer.

Keys had previously done another internship with Nationwide, and with this program, she helped study psychosocial issues as it pertained to pediatric oncology. She said the POST program allowed her to learn more about how different circumstances impact families and children as they deal with a child’s cancer diagnosis.

“It opened my eyes to a lot more things,” Keys said. She used the example of residential status of patients, such as patients who live in rural areas or far away from the hospital where their child needs treatment. Traveling to and from the hospital can impact the parent’s work schedule and cause additional costs on top of medical bills.

Keys, who is originally from Canton, plans to apply to medical school after she graduates from UD in 2023. She first gained an interest in biology and in the medical field in the seventh grade after a science project where she got to dissect a pig.

After going through this program, Keys is considering going into the field of pediatric oncology, but she is also considering palliative care.

“I knew I wanted to go into pediatrics,” Keys said.

Established by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in 2011, the POST Program aims to increase exposure to the field of pediatric oncology and develop practical research skills among undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, while also providing students with the opportunity to experience research firsthand.

“Although more than 17,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year, childhood cancer research continues to be significantly underfunded,” said Steve Radke, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “These students hold the key to future research breakthroughs, and we are honored to support them as they advance their knowledge and passion in discovering innovative childhood cancer treatments.”

For more information, visit AlexsLemonade.org.

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