Ethan Brock

Biology, concentration in Neuroscience; member, Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program
Metro Detroit, Mich.
Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine
In a nutshell, what do you do?
As a graduate student pursuing his Ph.D. in cancer biology, my project focuses on two important aspects in the field of breast oncology: the uncertainty regarding which lesions of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) will progress and become invasive, and the need for additional therapeutics to effectively treat triple-negative disease. DCIS is a non-invasive condition in which abnormal cells proliferate and eventually fill the mammary duct. Given the right circumstances—though it is unclear what they definitively are—these cells can escape this confined area by invading into the surrounding tissue. Once that has occurred the lesion is classified as invasive breast cancer, and patient prognosis becomes much less favorable. There are multiple subtypes of invasive breast cancer, but treatment options are the most limited for lesions classified as triple-negative. These highly aggressive cancers lack the conventional markers for targeted agents, leaving chemotherapy as the primary means of drug treatment for patients.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on expression studies to aid in defining the usefulness of a particular protein for screening applications. If levels of this protein relate to important changes in DCIS lesions, it may be useful in determining whether a patient needs to receive more—or less—aggressive treatment.
Why do you love what you do?
I have always enjoyed solving puzzles as long as doing so fulfills a greater purpose. In many ways research is akin to puzzle solving, and cancer research ... well, that’s like trying to solve a puzzle that actively attempts to undo the progress you’ve made. While it can admittedly be frustrating at times, research is a necessary component of medical advancement, and knowing that your work may one day be able to make people’s lives easier is extremely gratifying.
How did Albion help you get there?
Without the top-notch education I received at Albion, especially from the Biology Department, I would not be where I am today. It’s as simple as that. My professors invested so much into my development, not only as a scientist but as a person. I can only hope to pay them back one day by paying it forward.
For me, Albion... a catalyst for potential. It’s a place where friendships are forged, memories are made, and many late study nights include a trip to the Eat Shop. Most of all, it’s a place I call home.

Take It Further: Brock's Albion internship, Biology, Neuroscience, Honors Program