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Erin McCormick: Researching Cancer’s Rarest Forms
“They taught me a better way to find papers, to do research.”

Erin McCormick ’09 is a graduating senior at the Mount, a biology major with a minor in chemistry. She does research on one of the rarest forms of lymphoma. PTLDs or Posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders, are cancers often found in transplant patients with compromised immune systems. Erin works with noted researcher Dr. Owen O’Connor at Columbia Medical Center studying some of the worst cases of cancer which also tend to be some of its rarest forms.

Erin has been inputting data into an extensive first-of-its kind tumor bank in which she, and several other Mount interns, have made a significant research contribution. After all the information is put into the tumor database, data is statistically correlated to match the disease, treatment and the outcome. This will
help doctors in the future determine the best course of treatment. “We are now waiting for the statisticians to correlate the data,” said Erin.

“I research the outcome of different treatment methods and prevention, the incidence rates, does it progress. For example, cases that are Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) are DNA viruses that can cause tumors. If you are EBV positive then you got the tumor from a virus. The patient would have a better prognosis with this kind of lymphoma. Anti-viral therapy would be the right course, they would not need chemotherapy.”

Erin has worked with Dr. O’Connor since August 2008. “I’ve learned more about how to look for background information. They taught me a better way to find papers, to do research. Our paper on the results of this research will focus on comparing PTLDs to other types of lymphoma.

“If I don’t go to medical school I will stay on in a paid position as a research assistant at Columbia.”