Striking Back at Cancer
Ricky Shriner, a Central Tech biomedical graduate, was motivated to find a cure for cancer by his grandmother’s treatment experiences. He is furthering his educational goals at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.
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Show 1337: Striking Back at Cancer
Rob McClendon: Well, like most issues we examine here on “Horizon,” we focus today on the economic impact of STEM jobs, but there are also some very real social benefits as well. With the story of a young man entering the biosciences field for the love of family, joining me now is our Alisa Hines.
Alisa Hines: Rob, here is a number for you, 1.6 million. That is how many Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. And of those, roughly a third will eventually die from it. Sobering statistics that become all too real when a cancer victim is someone you love. Ricky Shriner loves science.
Ricky Shriner: Pretty much ever since I was little, I always said I wanted to do something in the science field just growing up. And kinda with my grandma, she helped me with it all the time. It was kinda always did all kinds of different card games and everything, but it was always related to animals.
Alisa: But after Grandma developed ovarian and breast cancer --
Shriner: Had to go through chemo three, four times or so and radiation treatments about the same. And she’s not just doing the lower level chemo, it’s always the high end, the harshest you can get. And from her recovery time, you’re literally almost having to carry her everywhere she goes. And for the first week it’s OK, but as soon as it’s done, everything catches up, and everything in the body starts, it’s just killing everything. And that’s the best way that we have to kill cancer currently. And it’s not right to put somebody through that.
Alisa: So Ricky’s love of science is now focused on one thing, striking back at cancer.
Shriner: I wanted to work on a way to help fight cancer that wasn’t going to completely destroy your entire system and put her through like what she had to go through. At Central Tech, in probably my junior year, I found something that, they did a nanotech program all summer, and one of them was with nanoshells. And with that I started looking more at it, and there was a possibility that they would use that to help with a cancer treatment. For my senior year there, as a biomedical program, you have to do an end of the year senior project, and that’s what I decided to work on.
Alisa: And using what he learned at Central Tech, Ricky is furthering his education at OSU.
Shriner: My professor, the first day, he was already naming off like different types of lab equipment, how to use it and everything. And he said I was probably one of the best students he had coming in, more than even his graduate students, on how to use lab equipment and different techniques to go with it. So they really teach you a lot of everything you have there. Right now, I plan on getting a degree in plant bioengineering. And with that, I want to go into medical research and do something more with cancer.
Alisa: A head start on the road to finding a cure. And who knows? Maybe someday it will be Ricky or someone like Ricky whose discoveries lessen both the human and financial costs of cancer.
Rob: And we wish him well. Thank you so much, Alisa.
Alisa: You’re welcome, Rob.