MaKendra Umstead: A personal mission to study cancer

In 2006, MaKendra Umstead's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother's journey through the treatment process had a profound effect on Umstead's academic trajectory.

Inquisitive by nature, Umstead was inspired to research cancer after her mother's experience — from the initial diagnosis to approaching 10-years cancer-free — generated more questions than answers.

Today, Umstead is a fifth year graduate student in Cancer Biology, a sub-program of the Laney Graduate School's Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Her research is focused on processes that might lead to better cancer treatments.

She joined the laboratory of pharmacology professor Haian Fu to conduct her dissertation research. Dr. Fu is a faculty member in the CB and MSP programs.

Umstead hopes that her future career will encompass her passion for cancer research, teaching and entrepreneurship, with a goal of improving the lives of others.

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