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Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Ashley Thompson, B.S.—A Fellow’s Perspective

Ashley Thompson, B.S., joined the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB) as a post-baccalaureate fellow through the NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program in June 2018. She received her B.S. in biochemistry from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Under the mentorship of Sharon A. Savage, M.D., chief, and Lisa J. McReynolds, M.D., Ph.D., assistant clinical investigator in CGB, Ms. Thompson conducts genomic research in the Inherited Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes Study, which seeks to understand how cancers develop in individuals with rare genetic blood disorders.

Over the last two years she has received a Federal Technology Transfer (FTT) award for implementing the use of software that detects large gene deletions with a potential role in disease, discovered novel disease-causing variants in a cohort of patients with Fanconi anemia from Pakistan, and is currently performing a genotype-phenotype correlation study on patients with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. She was recently published in Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation and currently has a manuscript under review for her work related to the FTT award. “My experience as a post-bac in CGB has been truly invaluable as I’ve been fortunate to contribute to multiple projects. Not only do my mentors give me autonomy over my studies, they have also provided me opportunities to serve as a consultant on variant pathogenicity to physicians and genetic counselors who contact us about our research,” reflected Ms. Thompson. “The DCEG Office of Education and my mentors have helped me navigate my career path. My research helped me realize my passion for genetics and connecting with patients, which has encouraged me to pursue a career in genetic counseling.”

In addition, Ms. Thompson plays an active role in the DCEG fellows’ community as she became co-chair of DFel (2019), helped organize and promote the most recent Annual Fellows’ Survey, and presented its results to the NCI Senior Advisory Group.

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