During a high school class discussion on cancer, 2007 Most Valuable Student Anthony Schuller from Sterling Heights, Michigan, found his life passion. Following his grandfather’s recent struggle with stomach cancer, Anthony learned about the Telomerase enzyme, an enzyme that accounts for almost 90 percent of human cancers. He realized that if this enzyme could be stopped, 90 percent of cancers would be cured. Little did he know that he would one day be working directly with this enzyme, bringing us closer to a cure for cancer.
Anthony, now a sophomore Biochemistry major at the University of Pennsylvania, spends much of his time working in the lab of Dr. Emmanuel Skordalakes at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Anthony began working as an assistant in Dr. Skordalakes’ lab during his freshman year. After a few months of training, he started working with Telomerase.
“I never expected to be a freshman studying the enzyme I had so much interest in during my high school years,” says Anthony. “Without the generosity of the Elks National Foundation, I would not have been able to attend the University of Pennsylvania, and therefore not have the opportunities to fulfill my dream to help find a cure for cancer.”
After months of hard work, Anthony’s efforts paid off. This October, Nature magazine, the most respected scientific publication in the world, published his lab’s study, which presented the structure of the Telomerase enzyme.
“For years, scientists have worked endlessly to obtain a model of the enzyme,” explains Anthony. “This publication is truly a landmark in the field of cancer research.”
Today, Anthony’s research is focused on discovering how to stop the enzyme, controlling the spread of cancer.
“Whether or not a cure becomes available in my lifetime or by my lab, I will know that I did what I could to advance the cause,” says Anthony. “My opportunity to do so was provided in part by the ENF.”
We are proud to have Anthony in our ENF family!