Deanna Csomo McCool | April 5, 2019
Rebecca Whelan, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is excited to be a new faculty member at Notre Dame, where she can now do research with the aid of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.
Whelan previously was a faculty member at Oberlin College, in Ohio, which does not offer graduate degrees. Therefore, all of her research in the field of bioanalytical chemistry – with one focus on developing new ways of testing for the presence of proteins in ovarian cancer cells that healthy cells don’t contain – was completed with the aid of undergraduate students only.
“I feel very, very fortunate to have been recruited at Notre Dame,” Whelan said. “I’m smiling. So far I’ve interacted with both graduate students and undergraduate students, and this is a remarkable community of learners; I am really impressed.”
Bioanalytical chemistry entails making measurements on samples that come from living beings, and Whelan searches for biomarkers - those proteins made by cancer cells – of ovarian cancer. Because of its vague symptoms, ovarian cancer doesn’t usually get diagnosed until later stages, and therefore has a low five-year survival rate. If ovarian cancer could be detected earlier, many more lives would be saved. “So it’s a question of whether we can develop a blood test that gives us a way to detect early-stage ovarian cancer,” she said.
Read more here.