Devin Wigler ’09 explores a career in oncology

My interest in oncology began when I volunteered at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston during Short Term. I worked in the Cancer Resource Center, providing literature to patients and their families. Cancer affects so many people directly or indirectly.

I wanted to explore the possibility of a career in oncology, so I applied to the undergraduate clinical research program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City. For ten weeks I was involved in metastatic prostate cancer research at one of the oldest and largest cancer research facilities in the world. I wrote portions of a research article manuscript on the use of the Bone Scan Index for determining cancer progression and predicting overall survival. I also assembled and managed a PET scan database comparing different imaging procedures for detecting disease. I spent two weeks doing inpatient rounds, which was a very enlightening experience. A Ladd Internship through the Bates Office of Career Services provided the funds that allowed me to live in New York City. A Scher Fellowship further offset my costs.

I learned so much about the biology of cancer, but as a psychology major and pre-med student, I’m also interested in its psychological impact. That’s where my internship ties into my senior thesis: I’m analyzing data regarding distress levels and psychosocial needs of newly diagnosed cancer patients for the Patrick Dempsey Center at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

The opportunity to do undergraduate research is awesome. It should give me a leg up when I apply to medical school, but it also inspired me to engage in clinical research for a few years first.

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