Learning to ‘think like a scientist’

18 Jul 2019

Mount Allison physics student participating in prestigious Amgen Scholars Canada Program

Third-year physics and mathematics student Noah Warner is spending his summer at the University of Toronto through the Amgen Scholars Canada Program (ASCP). The program, funded by the Amgen Foundation, provides hands-on research opportunities to 15 undergraduate students across Canada. Warner is the only student selected from the Atlantic region.

NoahWarner_AmgenScholar_one“It’s exciting to be part of this program and have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research,” says Warner. “I’m honoured to be named an Amgen Scholar.”

Warner is working with Dr. Raymond Reilley, director of the Centre Pharmaceutical Oncology, in U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. Dr. Reilley’s research focuses on the discovery, preclinical development and translation to Phase I/II clinical trials of novel radiopharmaceuticals for molecular imaging and targeted radiotherapy of cancer. Warner is working in the lab, growing small tumors to test potential treatments with radioactive antibodies. He is also working to measure the DNA damage of cancer cells and survival rates of these cells after treatment.

“This kind of research experience is giving me insight into the potential role of nuclear medicine in improving the outcome for cancer patients,” says Warner. “I’m incredibly lucky to be here.”

Reilly says Warner’s summer studies will help provide proof of principle of this new approach to eradicate triple-negative breast cancer tumours, and lead the way to future studies. The project crosses many disciplines of cancer, including biology, radiopharmaceutical science, and medical physics.

Warner says he hopes this experience will help teach him to ‘think like a scientist.’

NoahWarner_AmgenScholar_two“Research can hit many speedbumps and learning the skills for troubleshooting experiments and problem-solving will be beneficial,” he says.

In addition to his work in the lab, Warner is also spending his time taking in several research presentations and seminars in a variety of topics on the U of T campus during the summer program.

At Mount Allison, in addition to his studies and research, Warner is a volunteer with many university and community organizations including the Rotaract Club, where he volunteers with the local middle school’s breakfast program, and the Mount Allison physics society. He has also been a mentor with the START@MtA program, helping first-year Science students transition from high school to university and worked as an assistant Don in his residence on campus.

From Yarmouth, NS, Warner has worked to gain research experience throughout his university career in and out of the classroom and lab. Last summer he was an intern with the Caravan Lab at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at the Massachusetts General Hospital, an opportunity he gained by reaching out directly to Dr. Peter Caravan.

“Dr. Caravan was supposed to be a guest lecturer at MtA but was unable to make it due to the weather,” he says. “After reading some of his published papers to get a sense of his research, I reached out to him and asked if he took interns and from there we began making plans about my internship.”

The Amgen Scholars Program was first introduced in 2006. It includes 23 host universities in the US, Asia, Europe, Australia, and for the first time in 2019, Canada. Over 4,000 undergraduate students have participated in the program, receiving hands-on research opportunities in labs around the world.

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