Vanessa Yi-Chen Sung - 2015 Winning Essay

On a crisp October day, I packed my bags, left school, and flew to Taiwan. My father had been diagnosed with brain cancer, a merciless cancer that dissolves away the person you spend your life becoming. Within two short months, multiple brain surgeries had corroded the mind of the brilliant chemist whom I had worshipped growing up. The academic in him, however, endured and insisted that I return to continue my education.

Certain that my future was now cemented in cancer research, I immersed myself in the research environment. Throughout my B.Sc. years in Cell and Molecular Biology, I explored different cancer research avenues by working in laboratories of varying disciplines. My research experiences spanned basic cell signalling (McGill University), drug targeting (University of British Columbia), and genetic pathology (BC Cancer Agency). By the time I entered the M.Sc. program in Biochemistry at McGill, my work had been successfully published in two scientific journals.

I’ve since fast-tracked to the Ph.D. program, and am currently studying the mechanisms of cooperation between multiple cellular signalling pathways in promoting tumourigenesis. I’ve presented my research at numerous conferences and have been the grateful recipient of two competitive studentships.

My goal is to continue to acquire the knowledge, experience, and technical proficiency necessary to build a research career in a translational setting where my work can have clinical relevance. I’m inspired by my father’s unyielding scientific spirit and will work hard to contribute to the development of more effective and lasting cancer therapeutics.