Children’s Memorial Hospital Fellowship: 2008 – 2009

Children’s Memorial Hospital Fellowship

The Washington Square Health Foundation is helping to make great strides in cancer research at Children’s Memorial Hospital through the support of Jamie Dargart, MD, the fourth Washington Square Health Foundation Research Fellow and recipient of this year’s Washington Square Health Foundation funded Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation Research Fellowship.

In May of 2009, Dr. Dargart elected to pursue research during her second and third years of fellowship training in the laboratory of Richard M. Longnecker, PhD.   Dr. Longnecker is a professor in the Department of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Director of the Viral Oncogenesis Basic Science Program of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. He leads a successful research program primarily focused on investigations in viral oncology.

Dr. Dargart narrowed her research project to focus on a possible link that viral infections, in particular the Epstein Barr virus (EBV), play in the development of malignancies.  Specifically, Dr. Dargart is looking at the association between EBV and cancers, with a particular emphasis on lymphoma. She is looking at drugs known as small molecule inhibitors, which are designed to inhibit aberrantly activated proteins within cancer cells in an effort to prevent cell division. Previous research has identified a certain protein within the EBV particle, Latent Membrane Protein 2A (LMP2A), which has the ability to initiate a cascade of signals within white blood cells infected with EBV, resulting in cell survival when the cells might otherwise die.

Fellowship training is a central part of Children’s Memorial’s multi-faceted mission. This commitment allows the hospital to train a new generation of medical leaders who are capable, compassionate and inquisitive.  Aimed at the candidate whose goal is a career in academic medicine, the fellowship is considered the most important stage in the development of the physician-scientist specializing in pediatric cancer and blood disorders.  As she continues down this path, Dr. Dargart’s work holds the potential to positively impact the medical community at Children’s Memorial, who will benefit from the new insight she brings to her clinical and research activities, and children and families throughout Chicago, who will benefit first from her discoveries.