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Mount Union Student's Impactful Cancer Research Earns First Place at Kent State Event

April 10, 2023

Kent, OH – University of Mount Union biochemistry major, Colton Wade ’23 took first place for undergraduate research at the 9th annual Honors Week poster session hosted by the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Kent State University. Wade’s research, entitled, “Stop Right There! Cancer cell metastasis can be slowed using neutrophil NETosis in an in vitro environment,” explored one possibility for slowing the spread of cancer.

The CDC projects 600,000 deaths from cancer in 2023. Of those, at least 67% will list metastasis, the spreading of cancer throughout the body, as a major contributing cause. Wade’s research examined if the process of neutrophils called NETosis, where immune cells excrete their own DNA into the surrounding environment to catch and kill bacteria, could be used to reduce the ability of cancer cells to spread. It was also examined if NETosis could restimulate other immune cells to fight back against cancer.

“It was honestly just an honor in itself to present the project I’ve spent two years working on to professionals and professors from Northeast Ohio,” said Wade. “Having full-time biochemists congratulate me on the work I have done was a rewarding experience. But to be deemed worthy of having my research selected as the best project by those same professionals judging everyone competing was both gratifying and fulfilling. The conference experience has encouraged me to continue to do my best at everything I do.”

While vital to the advancement of healthcare, the field of biochemistry isn’t for the faint of heart. The road to Wade’s success was forged through his passion for helping others and sheer tenacity.

“There were so many days when I wanted to quit, change majors, or just felt like I wouldn’t achieve what I wanted,” said Wade. “Choosing to work through it instead of quitting has been more than worth it. If you want something, do not let anything keep you from getting yourself there, it will be worth it.”

Through persistence and the support of the campus community, Wade’s research proved fruitful, showing promise in reducing the spread of cancer. After graduation, he will be attending medical school at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) in Rootstown, Ohio with the hope of becoming a pediatrician.

“Mount Union has provided me with more research opportunities than I could have gotten at any other close-knit community school. Those opportunities, as well as working with Dr. Keith Miller, have pushed me to grow exponentially as a student and as a professional. It has reaffirmed my passion to pursue a career in the sciences. I feel extremely prepared for life after college thanks to the high expectations and support given by the staff and faculty here at Mount Union. If I were to do it again, I would absolutely choose the University of Mount Union to obtain my degree as a Purple Raider.”