Alumna Jacklynn Egger is helping fight pancreatic cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Alumna and BS in Biology major Jackie Egger ’14 brings her passion for research begun at Dyson to one of the nation’s premier cancer centers.

What have you been up to since graduation?

I am currently employed at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) as a senior research technician. My position is not a traditional one. I am the designated biospecimen coordinator for The David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research, with my main objective to bridge the clinical and research sides of the institution, which tend not to overlap much. My job is to maintain an MSKCC patient-derived biorepository of various types of pancreatic biological materials, with the most significant features being the collection, preservation, and distribution of tissues to research investigators within as well as outside our institution.

Why is the job you do important?

This process is very important because we are providing the foundation for investigators to research a cure for pancreatic cancer. I am quite literally going to the operating room to collect tissues, bringing them back to lab to process them in a way that preserves the integrity of the tissue, and distributing them to different labs to conduct different analyses. We also use this workflow with the many collaborators outside of the institution that do not have access to the wide variety of patients that MSKCC does.

What was your experience as a Dyson student in the Biology Department in Pleasantville?

The Dyson community is amazing. It offered a small, intimate program where the focus was on each individual rather than the class as a whole. I built a very tight knit relationship with all of the professors in the Biology Department, and it was with all of their guidance that I was able to grow to my full potential. I also truly would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my mentor, Dr. Krucher. She is not only an incredible leader, but a caring, inspirational person all around. 

What can you tell us about your cancer research with Professor Krucher?

Dr. Krucher and I worked together very closely. Our main focus was on the mutated Retinoblastoma protein, which contributes greatly to the development of a variety of cancers. Much of my time in the lab consisted of troubleshooting how to grow breast cancer cells in three dimensions as they would in situ, to replicate the genomic profile more closely than if we were to grow them in a two-dimensional manner.

Did you have the opportunity to present your research at Pace or externally as a student?

Yes, I presented my research with Dr. Krucher at Pace’s Undergraduate Student Faculty Research Showcase and Student Faculty Research Day. In addition, Dr. Krucher presented posters with our work quite a few times at The American Association for Cancer Research, which is the largest and oldest cancer research related conference in the world.

What you do wish to achieve through your work?

One of my main goals working at MSKCC is to make stronger connections between the clinical teams and the research investigators.  A “bench-to-bedside” approach, in which results of research done in a laboratory can be used to develop new ways to treat patients, is starting to become a very popular method of treatment.  However, without a connection between the clinical staff and the research investigators, it can be a challenge. It is my hope that we can create a more transparent workflow between the labs and clinical staff to improve this approach to cancer research. My main goal, however, is just to do right by our patients. Without them, there would be no reason to show up to work in the morning.

Editor's note: As a result of a promotion, starting in 2019, Jackie will be working as a Translational Research Project Coordinator in the Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering. In this role, she will be responsible for data/project management activities and for data accuracy associated with clinical research within the disease management team.