Princeton University student awarded grant to join childhood cancer research project


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Although it’s the leading cause of death for children under 19, according to the National Cancer Institute, childhood cancer research only receives 4% of funding from the federal cancer budget.

In order to continue the search for a cure, Northwestern Mutual, through its foundation, is supporting the next generation of pediatric cancer researchers through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s Pediatric Oncology Student Training (POST) program.

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Princeton University student Beianka Tomlinson is one of 12 students awarded with this grant nationwide.

Growing up in Jamaica, Tomlinson witnessed firsthand the issues surrounding access to quality healthcare, especially among children. She has dedicated her time to support this cause by fundraising and volunteering to support the children’s hospital in Jamaica.

As a student at Princeton University, Tomlinson is working towards becoming a physician with the goal to help ensure marginalized groups have access to quality healthcare and treatment options.

Through the POST Program, Tomlinson has been able to gain extensive research and laboratory experience by working at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and studying the disparities of children who have relapsed acute myeloid leukemia, specifically learning how patient outcomes for this disease differs by factors such as race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

“The POST Program has provided me with additional research opportunities and further ignited my passion and desire to improve healthcare accessibility for marginalized populations around the world, especially in my home country of Jamaica,” Tomlinson said. “Knowing that my work can help other researchers and scientists advance medicine inspires me as I continue my education and gain more experience.”

Northwestern Mutual has committed $60,000 to the program, which will support 12 undergraduate, graduate and medical students through eight weeks of research experience with top researchers in the pediatric oncology field.

“Through the hard work and dedication of these students and researchers, the reality of a world without cancer is that much more attainable,” said Eric Christophersen, president, Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “Building a pipeline of researchers with diverse perspectives will help us drive the innovative ideas that are essential to creating the best possible outcomes for children diagnosed with cancer.”

Recognizing the importance of funding childhood cancer researchers at critical stages in their careers, the POST Program was created in 2011 to increase exposure to the field of pediatric oncology and develop practical research skills among undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

Student recipients are provided with the opportunity to experience research firsthand by directly working with principal investigators to explore research in a field of their interest.

Through this stipend, the students will continue to learn more about the disease and work towards better treatments and cures.

“Since 2012, Northwestern Mutual and their employees have gone above and beyond each year to help kids with cancer and this year is no different,” said Liz Scott, mother of Alex Scott and co-executive director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. “Their support of the POST Program continues our daughter’s legacy by funding much needed research in the fight against childhood cancer by encouraging young, bright students to enter the field.”

  • This information was provided by Branigan Inc. on behalf of Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

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