The NEXT step in stem cell research
Providing summer internships for research projects at Bradley and other organizations is among Peoria NEXT’s endeavors. For example, Dr. Craig Cady, assistant professor of biology, hired two summer interns, one Bradley student and one high school student, to assist in his research efforts.
Last summer, Amanda Gillett ’10 assisted Cady in researching how stem cells from umbilical cord blood can be used to treat ovarian cancer. Cady, who is collaborating with the obstetrics-gynecology department at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, will soon test the use of stem cells in a novel approach to treating ovarian cancer in a model system. He explains, “We now understand stem cells are attracted to cells under stress, including cancer cells. We have found through experimentation that if we put stem cells close to cancer cells, they tend to migrate toward the cancer cells.”
Cady’s second Peoria NEXT intern, Richwoods High School student Jessie O’Neal, assisted in researching how estrogen protects the brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Cady explains, “We want to optimize how estrogen is given to a woman post-menopausal to protect the brain. We know estrogen protects it from stress, but no one understands how. We’re looking at a lab model of damage to neurons.” Cady says Peoria NEXT provides summer internships for high school students in Bradley’s biology and chemistry departments, USDA National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, the University of Illinois School of Medicine, and at OSF Saint Francis and Methodist medical centers.
Cady has been involved in several Peoria NEXT committees. “It’s a wonderful program. I received a Peoria NEXT grant for stem cell research when I first came to Bradley. The support money I get for supplies and for students takes the load off my grants, so I can do other research. Most of my research is very expensive. The community benefits, too. Peoria is lucky to have an organization that promotes this level of stem cell research.”
Cady encourages expectant mothers to consider making a cord blood donation when their babies are born. He can be reached at email@example.com or 309-677-3020.