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Professor of Biology Maria Todd mentors undergraduates while examining the mechanics of how cancer spreads.
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In Summer 2017, Southwestern’s first Term Chair position was established by Ed and Suzanne Morrow Ellis, both ’64, to support the teaching and research of Dr. Maria Todd, professor of biology, her students, and the Biology Department.
A Term Chair is a faculty award that is made for a fixed period of time. The Suzanne and Edward Ellis Term Chair has been established to provide $20,000 per year during the next three academic years.
Todd studies the development and progression of endometrial cancer, which arises from cells lining the uterus. Her research focuses on two areas: (1) the identification of tight junction protein defects that allow endometrial tumors to develop and eventually spread (or metastasize) to secondary organs, and (2) the race-specific disparity in mortality rates of women with endometrial cancer. Specifically, her group is investigating why it is that African-American women who have approximately the same incidence of endometrial cancer as women of other races, die at 2.5 times the rate of other women from this disease.
While Todd has always engaged students in her laboratory, the Term Chair position will fund a student to work with her for a three-year time period, providing consistency and momentum to their research. The student will receive an experience similar to that of a graduate student, which will be meaningful as they prepare to apply to doctoral and MD/PhD programs. Todd shares, “The most important lesson of working in the lab is that students learn how to think as scientists–how to design experiments, analyze complex data, and communicate their findings clearly through written and oral presentations.” After a three-year research experience, a student will leave with an excellent training in cellular and molecular biomedical research having made large and sustainable contributions. They will also help train subsequent generations of Southwestern students who will study in Todd’s laboratory.
The annual contributions of the Term Chair will be used to support a faculty salary stipend, faculty research, student research, and the departmental budget.
If you have an interest in learning more about establishing a Term Chair at Southwestern, please contact Kent Huntsman, associate vice president of development, at email@example.com.