Alumna Pursues Ph.D., Concentrates on Cancer Treatment

Bennett Poff

CONWAY, Ark. (July 16, 2013) – Hendrix alumnus Angela Bennett Poff is approaching the field of cancer therapeutics in new and promising ways.

"Most cancer research has been focused on targeting the genetic abnormalities of cancer, which is highly variable and differs largely between cancer types and even between cells within a single tumor," explained Poff, a 2010 graduate who is currently working on her Ph.D. at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa, Fla.

"Targeting the energy metabolism of cancer focuses on a single characteristic that appears to be universally critical for all cancers, greatly simplifying our therapeutic strategy and making it much more manageable and realistic," she continued.

Poff, a biochemistry molecular biology major at Hendrix, worked for three years in biology professor Dr. Rick Murray’s lab. It was there she decided research was absolutely for her.

"Dr. Murray was a wonderful mentor and scientist," she said. "He let us take the lead on running experiments for our own projects and was a great teacher along the way."

With help from the Your Hendrix Odyssey: Engaging in Active Learning, Poff attended the National Society for Neuroscience conference twice, giving her insight into how biomedical research progressed and what being a research scientist really meant.

In her graduate program, Poff was initially more interested in researching infectious diseases, but after a six week laboratory rotation with her mentor Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, she realized the cancer research he was proposing had a very real potential to change the face of cancer treatment.

"I believe that this new direction in cancer research really may make the much-needed difference in cancer treatment," said Poss, who anticipates finishing her Ph.D. in 2014. "There is a lot of exciting evidence in pre-clinical animal studies, which we are working to move into clinical trials soon so that patients will begin to reap the benefits of these new ideas."

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the fifth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s "Up and Coming" liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Hendrix is featured in the 2012 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 377 colleges, the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, Forbes magazine's annual list of America's Top 650 Colleges, and the 2013 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu.