In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Cancer Act, Dr. Darryl Martin shares his motivation for pursuing a career in cancer research:
What brought you to work in cancer research?
My first introduction to cancer research was in high school during a MedQuest Program, which was held by the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University. This program was designed to introduce students to health sciences as well as careers in the medical profession. Then early during college, I worked part-time as a Medical Service Aid at the Dr. Charles A. Janeway Child Health Centre (named after Dr. Janeway, a graduate of Yale University) in Newfoundland. This job required me to frequently visit the Children’s Cancer ward. It was during those visits I was inspired to do more to help the families I met struggling with a difficult cancer diagnosis. A few years later, I had an opportunity to begin graduate school in the laboratory of Drs. Robert Gendron and Hélène Paradis at Memorial University studying pediatric cancer. My training focused on growth and differentiation markers for early cancer detection. I found it rewarding that my research could impact my community and was drawn to scientific discovery and urgency of cancer research.
Why is diversity important to the workforce and the work you do?
Diversity is important to my laboratory as it brings new ideas and views that in part come from unique life experiences. These ideas stimulate creative discussions, leading to innovative perspectives to dissect complex, multi-layered scientific problems. We all benefit from diversity by learning from backgrounds and viewpoints that are not like our own. Diversity should be important to everyone.
What do you think the future holds for cancer research?
The future of cancer research is of tremendous promise. New discoveries are constantly being made to improve cancer detection, patient stratification (personalized medicine), as well as therapeutic discovery. Our translational cancer research group is excited to push the boundaries of cancer research by using innovative approaches to develop diagnostic and therapeutic tools as well as pre-clinical mouse models to tackle cancer progression with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcome and quality of life.
What message do you have for your counterparts in cancer research?
As an individual, it is very difficult to be an expert in every aspect of cancer research. Good collaborations are important! It takes a diverse, knowledgeable, and persistent team to advance the field of cancer research. Also, take the time to train the next generation of scientists as they can continue to build on what you have started.
Each individual in the oncology workforce has a unique and impactful story about why they work in cancer research. The National Cancer Institute invites you to share your story of what drives you to work in cancer research and has developed the hashtags #ThisIsWhy and #NothingWillStopUs. Together, let's inspire the next generation of diverse talent to join us in the fight to end cancer as we know it!