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Fellowship leads to medical career

Date: 12/8/2010

Dec. 8, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Patrick Chambers of Westfield has always known he wanted to be a doctor and now, thanks to the American Cancer Society, he's realized just how much gumption it takes to earn an M.D.

Chambers, a senior biology major at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., spent the summer as an Alvan T., Viola D. Fuller-American Cancer Society junior research fellow studying basal cell breast cancer at University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. He has since taken his fellowship experience to help finish his bachelor's degree and gain entrance into medical school.

"It's a disease that affects everyone's life. It has definitely touched mine," Chambers said of the personal importance of his research, which studied the correlation between normal cells and basal breast cancer and pregnancy-related breast cancer.

Chambers' grandmother and aunt lost their battles with cancer.

"He's a motivated and energetic young man," Joseph Jerry, PhD., chair of the Center for Breast Cancer Research and a professor at UMass, said. "It's great to have someone come in who is academically well trained and see them begin to develop those skills in the lab and [in turn] new interests."

Jerry called Chambers' fellowship an opportunity for medical students "to understand the research and what it takes so that they can communicate that to others."

He added, "What some people find is that research is hard and that the don't like that [aspect of medicine]. Others will find that it's what wakes [them] up in the morning."

Chambers said his focus would be trauma surgery or emergency medicine.

"UMass for medical school is my top choice," he explained. "It's got a mission statement [that] speaks to my philosophy of being a doctor: caring for people with the utmost amount of [respect] as you can and living an altruistic life serving the community."

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