Hero of the Month: 19-Year Old Colon Cancer Researcher Keven Stonewall

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Meet the 19-year old student who may cure colon cancer
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Keven Stonewall, a Chicago native, is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin - Madison researching a potential vaccine for colon cancer. The research project, which he began while interning at Rush University as a high school student, could change the the diagnosis and treatment of colon cancer, and may even eradicate the disease altogether.

Be Seen, Get Screened: Tell us a bit about your background. What piqued your interest in cancer research to begin with, and what were some challenges you faced along the way?

Keven Stonewall: My name is Keven Stonewall and I am 19 years old. I am from Chicago, Illinois and I am a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Almost everyone is impacted by cancer in some form. It got to the point where I wanted to stand up and do something about it.  I felt that doing cancer research would be a great way to start supporting the cause at the age of 17.

Be Seen, Get Screened: Can you tell us a bit about your personal experience with colon cancer?

Keven Stonewall: I had a friend whose uncle passed away from cancer. I saw the devastating results that the death had on my friend. He went from being one of the top students in the class in high school to struggling to turn in his homework.  

Be Seen, Get Screened: Tell us about your groundbreaking research initiatives. What are your objectives?

Keven Stonewall: Essentially the research focuses on the usage of a high concentration of mitoxantrone — a prescription drug that treats certain types of cancers. I administered this potential vaccine to young and old mice and then injected the vaccinated mice with aggressive colon cancer cells.

I measured responses, including the makeup of key immune cells called dendritic cells, as well as tumor growth and survival rates.

After three days of living with the vaccine, all of the young mice's tumors were eliminated, and they demonstrated immunity to colon cancer. 

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Be Seen, Get Screened: At age 19, you've got quite a head start on a very promising career. What are some ultimate goals for your current and future cancer research projects?

Keven Stonewall: I hope that the research I conduct can one day be used on the patients I will interact with.

Be Seen, Get Screened: What are some of the challenges you've faced and rewards you've reaped from your experience with colon cancer research?

Keven Stonewall: I was motivated to know that I really wanted to learn about colon cancer. But it was definitely a transition in the beginning of learning to conduct cancer research because it was nothing like the typical high school biology lab.

I am thankful for having that opportunity. I won numerous awards regarding my research. I feel that I am making a small step in a bigger picture that I have in mind.   

Be Seen, Get Screened: In your opinion, why is it important for people to be educated about risk factors and the importance of screening for colon cancer?

Keven Stonewall: It is important for people to be educated about risk factors because the more informed patients are, the more willing they are going to be to screened.  As we getting towards a day where our screening method for colon cancer is improving, it is essential to get screened.

As an aspiring physician, it is important to inform and educate your patients because being a physician is a job of service as well as a job of education.

Here's a video clip summarizing Keven's research initiatives, which won him a finalist's spot at Intel's 2013 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

 

Keven Stonewall Preventing Colon Cancer from VNM USA on Vimeo.

Image Source: Intel

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Topics: Hero of the Month