Belfast and Beyond

Brittany Forcione '10, is eagerly preparing for the next step towards her dream of becoming a doctor and medical researcher as she keeps busy with her final semester of senior year at Nazareth. She just scored above the 90th percentile in the nation on her senior comprehensive exam, and she is currently working in a lab at the University of Rochester (U of R) that focuses on leukemia research.

Forcione, a biology major with a dual minor in chemistry and psychology (and pre-med concentration), got a jump start on her career this past summer. She earned a prestigious research studentship studying skin cancer at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), a state-of-the-art research center at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was a paid position in a field that not many undergraduates have a chance to get involved in. "The professors in the biology and chemistry departments [at Nazareth] challenge students and teach them the significance of science in our world today," said Forcione. "Because of their motivation and enthusiasm, I sought and secured the position in Northern Ireland as well as an amazing internship at the U of R...They [the professors] have been incredible."

In fact, her research experience in Northern Ireland made her realize her passion for research, and she is actively looking into combined M.D.,/Ph.D. programs in the United States. These combined programs would allow her to complete both medical school and graduate school in about eight years while earning both degrees. "They are very competitive programs, but can be extremely rewarding," said Forcione. "If it wasn't for the insight into biomedical research that I gained from the CCRCB in Belfast, I wouldn't have even known to look for these programs."

A native of a small town near Syracuse, N.Y., Forcione was inspired to investigate the cancer research position because her grandmother passed away from ovarian cancer. Her mentor over the summer in Northern Ireland was Dr. Dennis McCance, director of Queen's University Belfast Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology. He paid Forcione and Nazareth College a high compliment when telling her she was chosen because he recognized the excellence of Nazareth College students from the time he spent working at the U of R.

Forcione hopes to return to Northern Ireland this summer. She is speaking with a professor at CCRCB about continuing work in another lab there that specializes in leukemia.