Young Scientist Led Breakthrough Work In Breast Cancer

Dr. Joy McDaniel is a young black Alabama scientist who led breakthrough work in breast cancer

A team led by a young Alabama scientist has brought the world one step closer to a cure for one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Dr. Joy McDaniel’s research on triple negative breast cancer has now led her to a postdoctoral fellowship at the prestigious University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. But how she got there and where she may be heading is a story of Alabama science today.

McDaniel, a Birmingham native, was a student at the University of Alabama in Huntsville working in the laboratory of Biology Department Chairman Gopi Podila. “He knew I wanted to stay for my PhD and I was interested in genomics,” McDaniel recalled this week.

McDaniel was one of many students encouraged by Podila, who died in a multiple shooting at UAH in 2010. Professors in the department continued that encouragement and helped McDaniel get a position in the laboratory of leading genomic researcher Dr. Rick Myers at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, according to AL.

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Looking back at her Alabama research from her current position at MD Anderson, McDaniel praised the level of Alabama’s research.

“We have wonderful science going on back home,” she said. “The fact we have such a wonderful place to do genomics and that there’s a lot of collaboration with UAB is going to progress personalized medicine, not just in cancer but in other diseases as well. UAB and HudsonAlpha are going to continue to be shining stars in Alabama.”

Will she come home when the fellowship is complete? There’s no guarantee, but it’s possible. McDaniel will be looking for her own laboratory and faculty position where she can teach, mentor and do research.

“That’s always an option,” McDaniel said. “Alabama is always home.”

Black scientists are the future of our country, and we believe it’s in their hands to make everything better!

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