Benjamin Sunkel, a 2016 OSBP graduate, is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In this department, researchers aim to reduce the negative side effects of cancer treatments while continuing to improve cure rates.
When reflecting on his OSBP experience, Benjamin states that he feels the program played a vital role in preparing him for ongoing research and future careers. He joined the lab of Qianben Wang in the Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics in 2011, where he studied oncogenic gene expression, mechanisms of therapeutic resistance, and novel disease-driving pathways in human prostate cancer.
During his time in the lab, Benjamin gained an appreciation for the undervalued importance of peer-to-peer relationships and good mentoring. He cites the number of lasting personal and professional relationships he made through OSBP, and is proud that he continues to grow his Buckeye network wherever he goes.
His advice to new and current OSBP students? To take advantage of what the program provides, especially the lab rotations. Benjamin saw lab rotations as a way to gain exposure to new fields, and to meet future coworkers. “Take them seriously,” he says, “because not only will you spend the next several years in one of these labs, but you may also get a publication from your short time rotating.”
Benjamin has already co-authored one publication on apo-13- and apo-15-lycopenoids since his graduation. As a whole, he is proud of his Buckeye experience. “I can’t say enough about the quality of the program and all the staff, faculty, and students involved.”
Sureshbabu Narayanasamy, Jian Sun, Ryan E. Pavlovicz, Abdulkerim Eroglu, Cassandra E. Rush, Benjamin D. Sunkel, Chenglong Li, Earl H. Harrison, and Robert W. Curley, Jr. Synthesis of apo-13- and apo-15-lycopenoids, cleavage products of lycopene that are retinoic acid antagonists. J. Lipid Res. 2017 58:(5) 1021-1029.