headshot of Jordan Kramer
News Story

Goldwater Recipient to Use Scholarship to Continue Cancer Research

Biology major Jordan Kramer (C’22) has been awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which she will use to continue her work in cancer cell research.

The prestigious national scholarship – given to students who excel in mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences – has been awarded to four other Georgetown College students over the past seven years. They include Lydia Good (C’21), Patrick Mulcahey (C’19), Ayan Mandal (C’18) and Sarah Waye (C’15).

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award as it is a direct reflection of the quality of education that Georgetown provides for undergraduates – including the learning facilities, the faculty for the high caliber teaching and the advisors who encouraged me to apply for the Goldwater and helped guide me through the process,” says Kramer. “I am deeply indebted to Dr. Schlegel and Dr. Yuan for their scientific passion, ability to create a hands-on laboratory learning environment and infinite patience.”

After graduating, Kramer plans to pursue a M.D./Ph.D. degree specializing in immunology. She says that she ultimately wants to become a pediatric oncologist and help develop novel immunotherapy techniques to treat rare pediatric cancers.

Research for Others

The rising senior began working as a research assistant in The Center for Cell Reprogramming run by Dr. Richard Schlegel in her first year at Georgetown, where she studied the effects of using combination therapies to treat cervical cancer under the mentorship of Hang Yuan. 

Specifically, Kramer’s research is helping to test whether or not cancer can be effectively treated by using two different drugs that target the same key growth pathways in a synergistic manner, with minimal side effects for the patient. 

“This could lead to non-surgical, self-administered therapy for HPV-related cervical pre-cancer, a goal that would have global impact,” says Schlegal, adding that Kramer is well-deserving of the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. “She is an absolute pleasure to work with and her initiative, intelligence and commitment will carry her far in medical science.”

Research and Service

The Goldwater recipient also earned an opportunity to conduct research as a project intern at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX, where she will be continuing her research this summer. Her work focuses on CAR T-cell research under Dr. Nabil Ahmed in the Department of Hematology and Oncology. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kramer was an active participant of the Georgetown Running Club and volunteered with the Child Life Program department at Georgetown University Hospital. 

Currently, the junior serves as a virtual volunteer at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital in Houston, TX, where she works with the families of pediatric cancer patients as a camp counselor for various spring and summer camps for the patients and their siblings. 

“The goal of these experiences is to give these families the same opportunities as healthy children to experience joy and meet new friends in a way that removes the focus from their disease,” says Kramer. “In order to eventually care for these children as patients, I need to first understand how to help them as human beings who just want to be kids.”

Kramer’s dedication to helping others is evident through each aspect of her work and involvement at Georgetown. Her mentor Yuan noted that this commitment, along with her intelligence and creativity, makes Kramer “one of the best undergraduate students I have seen at the university.”

“In her exciting drug discovery study for cervical cancer using in vitro cancer drug assay, she found that the combination of an anti-malaria drug and a drug for treating multiple myeloma can be used as a very effective therapy for cervical cancer,” Yuan says. “The project is leading to a patent application at Georgetown and clinical trials at multiple clinical centers.”

For more information about the Goldwater Scholarship and other research and fellowship opportunities, please visit the Center for Research and Fellowships.

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)

Student Research