Abigail Fielder’s path to PhD at Wayne State University School of Medicine began with an early love and interest in medicine and an open door that coincided with a personal desire for a cancer cure.
“My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer when I was in high school, and while her history as a survivor is triumphant, the memory of what my grandmother went through remains with me to this day,” she said. “Though I was grateful that the doctors and therapeutics at home were being used for cancer, I decided that as I got older, I would do more. I couldn’t just hold my breath knowing that I could be an integral part in finding a cure for any diagnosed patient. I want to help improve oncological therapeutics, better understand the factors that influence cancer and its treatment, and find ways to fight, prevent and cure the disease. “
Fielder is a prospective PhD student who will begin her studies in the school’s cancer biology graduate program in the fall. This year she was selected by the WSU Graduate School for one of five Dean’s Diversity Fellowships. The scholarship supports outstanding doctoral students with a three-year grant. Nominated by their programs and selected by a graduate school panel, the fellows are pioneers in their fields, exploring difficult questions and conducting research to improve the Detroit community and beyond.
“It felt almost surreal. Receiving my offer felt like the culmination of all the early mornings, late nights, and sacrifices I made while studying. I’m really excited to have been selected and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead, ”said Fielder.
Fielder was born in Detroit and obtained a dual bachelor’s degree in life sciences and Romance studies with a focus on Spanish from WSU in 2020. She volunteered to teach English to the Latino community through La Casa Guadalupana, a nonprofit dedicated to providing family education and training in southwest Detroit, and was a student on the Initiative to Maximize Student Development program, which encourages students from diverse backgrounds intended to embark on a biomedical academic career. As part of the latter program, she worked as a research fellow at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit in the Animal Model and Therapeutic Evaluation Core.
She applied for the cancer biology graduate program because she had already gained valuable experience at WSU, she said.
“I’m interested in cancer epidemiology in health inequalities and hope to bring my passion for research and love for people together to make an impact in the medical field, especially in underrepresented areas. I too have deep roots in the city of Detroit and wanted to continue my studies here. I believe my journey here in Wayne State will culminate in life changing education and life saving breakthroughs, ”she said.