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Saccomanno scientist presents research at European conference

September 14, 2010
Dr. Kelly Jean Thomas, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow working at St. Mary¹s Saccomanno Research Institute, was invited to present her research on programmed cell death (apoptosis) at the 18th Euroconference on Apoptosis in Ghent, Belgium.

Apoptosis is a natural, protective process that kills and disposes of damaged cells so they cannot multiply and produce more damaged cells. Precancerous cells are damaged cells, but they learn to override the apoptosis process and continue to grow and multiply, developing into cancer. "Dr. Thomas is studying how the energy in cancer cells differs from the energy in normal cells," says Marty Jacobson, PhD, research director, Saccomanno Research Institute. The energy differences may show how cancer cells avoid being destroyed by apoptosis. "Identifying these differences will help us understand how cancers form and may lead to the development of new drugs and improved treatments for cancer patients," Jacobson adds.

Thomas received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kansas and a doctorate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She did her doctoral thesis work at the National Institutes of Health in the National Institute on Aging. She began her postdoctoral fellowship at St. Mary¹s Saccomanno Research Institute in 2009. Thomas also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the biology department at Mesa State College.