Although it is the leading cause of death for children under 19, according to the National Cancer Institute, childhood cancer research receives only 4% of funding from the federal cancer budget.
To continue the search for a cure, Northwestern Mutual, through its foundation, supports the next generation of pediatric cancer researchers through Alex’ Lemonade Stand Foundation’s Pediatric Oncology Student Training (POST) program.
Beianka Tomlinson, a Princeton University student, is one of 12 students nationwide to have been awarded this scholarship.
Growing up in Jamaica, Tomlinson witnessed the problems surrounding access to quality health care, especially among children. She has spent her time supporting this cause by raising money and volunteering to support the Children’s Hospital in Jamaica.
As a student at Princeton University, Tomlinson is working toward becoming a physician with the goal of ensuring marginalized groups have access to quality health care and treatment options.
Through the POST program, Tomlinson has been able to gain extensive research and laboratory experience working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) studying the inequalities of children with relapsed acute myeloid leukemia, particularly by learning how patient outcomes for this disease differ by factors such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
“The POST program has provided me with additional research opportunities and further fueled my passion and desire to improve access to health care for marginalized populations around the world, especially in my home country of Jamaica,” Tomlinson said. “The knowledge that my work can help other researchers and scientists advance medicine inspires me as I continue my education and gain more experience.”
Northwestern Mutual has pledged $60,000 to the program, which will support 12 undergraduate, graduate and medical students through eight weeks of research experience with top researchers in the pediatric oncology field.
“The hard work and dedication of these students and researchers has made the reality of a cancer-free world much more accessible,” said Eric Christophersen, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “Building a pipeline of researchers with different perspectives will help us drive the innovative ideas that are essential to creating the best possible outcomes for children diagnosed with cancer.”
Recognizing the importance of funding childhood cancer researchers at critical stages in their careers, the POST program was established in 2011 to increase exposure to the field of pediatric oncology and develop practical research skills among students, graduates and medical students.
Student recipients will have the opportunity to experience research first-hand by working directly with principal investigators to conduct research in an area of their interest.
Through this stipend, the students continue to learn more about the disease and work towards better treatments and cures.