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Meet Paolo Lizano, HCS Class of 2001

Paolo Lizano

Class of 2001-2005

Union Hill High School
Presently: Rutgers University
Admitted: University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, MD/PhD Program

Topic (2001): Isolation, Detection, and Cellular & Molecular Characterization of Circulating Skin Tumor Cells from Cancer Patients

Topic (2005): Potency of Novel 1,25 D3 Analogs on Inducing Differentiation in a Human Myeloid Leukemia Cell Model

Research Abstract (pdf)


It was during high school that I was first introduced to the career within science, which I was determined to pursue. As a rising junior, my participation in the Harlem Children Society research program, gave me the opportunity to gain a hands on laboratory experience. I worked with Dr. Bhattacharya from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and was given the responsibility of testing for circulating tumor cells in patients with breast cancer, using a novel technique he discovered. I was continually amazed by the mechanisms in which cancer function. I became intrigued by the idea that my work could contribute to the scientific community, and that other people could use my work to develop their own theses. Working in this lab and learning the magnificence of science, instilled in me a passion for the scientific and medical endeavor.

In addition to doing the work behind the scenes, I was given the opportunity to see exactly how cancer physically affects people. I saw children and adults both very ill with cancer and other viral diseases. I saw cachexic patient’s wheelchair ridden and bald due to chemotherapy. I couldn't look at these patients without wanting to help them. This experience inspired me to be a future oncologist/scientist. This experience has allowed me to believe that we can conquer cancer as long as we work hard and dedicate our time to the greater understanding of the disease.

This experience helped me determine where my future goals were headed after graduating from college. Working with Dr. Bhattacharya and seeing his passion for both his profession and helping underrepresented students has motivated me to pursue a career in Oncology. My acceptance to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey this November is going to allow me to pursue my dream. As a minority with very few major opportunities, I am grateful that I had the chance to excel is such a program that gave minorities the inspiration needed to overcome the adversities they face towards the path to success.

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