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September 9th, 2015

How to slay an angry genome…

By Justin Maroun

A war fought with pipettes, stethoscopes and a whole lot of gusto is happening every day here at the Mayo Clinic. We have the chance to watch every battle of the war on cancer converge at one amazing institution. As fresh medical students, we can pick up a journal article, centrifuge tube, or stack of charts and help write the next chapter. A story of hope, love, tragedy, and science is being told every day and there is something for everyone to contribute.

There are people like me in my medical class who are in love with bench top science and there are people at the far opposite end of the spectrum who are more interested in the social implications of cancer. When we all interact and work together, I can see a bright future. This past year I remember thinking to myself, ‘Well I never thought of that’ almost every day, and that is exactly how the future will be written.

Justin, Chris, and Mark are second year Mayo Medical Students who got behind the scenes at the new proton beam center.

Justin, Chris, and Mark are second year Mayo Medical Students who got behind the scenes at the new proton beam center.

I have the great privilege of being one of the leaders in the medical school’s oncology interest group and we have been planning amazing things for the next year to come. Through tours of proton beam centers, pathologist guided viewings of neoplastic specimens, group attendance at tumor boards with medical student discussions to follow, simulations on delivering bad news, and cancer-related movie nights, we plan to showcase as much as possible. We have the honor to attend medical school at the #3 nationally ranked cancer care center and for those interested there is so much to learn.

If you get too caught up watching for rattlesnakes you may wander into the bullpen. I have found many ways to apply that life lesson, but medical school seems to be the very best example. People like me, who are constantly busy learning the basal ganglia circuits and other pathways, often get hyperfocused and miss the stories unfolding right in front of our eyes. The other day as I was walking to class, I noticed the hundreds of patients I walked by every day and I had a deep desire to serve each and every one of them as best as I could. At this point, that means reading that textbook as thoroughly as possible. After that realization, I had a renewed energy.

Well, let me tell you how much sweeter life is when you take the time to stop and smell the bluebonnets and see how these amazing scientific feats are applied to patient care. Here at Mayo Clinic, cancer care is a fantastic window to the future. How do you plan to contribute?

Justin Maroun is a second year MD/PhD student from San Antonio, Texas. He is extremely interested in oncology, particularly viral and biologic therapy for cancer.  In his spare time you will likely find him fishing, reading a Western, or grilling a delicious meal.

Tags: Cancer, Cancer research, Mayo Clinic, Mayo Medical School, Mayo Medical School Blog, Medical School, Medical Student Blog, Medical Students, Meet Mayo Med, Oncology, Oncology interest group, Proton beam therapy, Uncategorized

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