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Fox Chase Cancer Center Hosts Send-Off Party for Gold Medal Student Scientist Representing Tri-State Area at Prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Fox Chase Cancer Center student scientist Mazell Tetruashvily will proudly represent the Delaware Valley in the 55th Intel International Science and Engineering Fair next week in Portland, Oregon. At the Delaware Valley Science Fair in April, Tetruashvily (pronounced: Tet true aash villy) raked-in several awards including the 2004 gold medal for the 12th grade division ensuring her spot to compete on the world stage. Tetruashvily, a senior at Cherokee High School North in Marlton, NJ, will compete against 1,200 students from 40 nations to win a $50,000 college scholarship and other prizes.

Tetruashvily became interested in science after the death of her uncle. "My uncle passed away from lung cancer," she explained. "His unfortunate death sparked my interest in cancer and motivated me to do research."

Tetruashvily has been a student scientist at Fox Chase Cancer Center since the 8th grade, working in the laboratory after school and in the summers. She is mentored by Anthony T. Yeung, PhD, in the basic sciences division at Fox Chase. As a sophomore, she became a participant in the Partnership for Cancer Research Education program at Fox Chase, one of only 19 such programs nationwide sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

"Mazell is an exceptionally bright student and a very hard worker," said Yeung about his protg. "When she first approached me in 8th grade, she presented me with an abstract describing a research project she was doing at home. She's very original and comes to me with fresh ideas, fully researched and with a list of who her collaborators will be."

"Even as an 8th grader, Tony would sit with me and explain the science and the terminology," Tetruashvily recalled of her mentor. "He would always encourage me to take the next step. He always had confidence in me."

Tetruashvily says preparation for the science fair creates a new challenge. "I know my research well, so I try to prepare by thinking of questions that the judges may ask me," explained Tetruashvily. "By doing this, I gain and learn even more because I'm thinking of new problems and directions that my research may take in the future."

Tetruashvily's gold medal research project examines the rise of cells that become cancerous in the colon. She examines the differences in proteins of each layer of the colon tissue - a field of study called proteomics. In the future, Tetruashvily says she will study ways to block a protein critical to cancer growth.

"Mazell has a great gift in addition to her scientific mind," said Yeung. "She knows how to be a good collaborator and how to motivate others to work with her so that she gets what she needs in the lab. She is now a mentor in my lab for our other students."

"It's been an incredible gift to come to Fox Chase to learn, and it has been an excellent experience," she said. "I hope my research will help me help others."

Tetruashvily has placed in a number of science fairs and has attended the International Science and Engineering Fair for the last two years. Tetruashvily is president of several organizations at her school including the National Honor Society, Youth Researcher's Society, Biology Club, and is the executive commission of the Student Movement Against Cancer. She is also a member of the Math Club, Asian Club, Portuguese Club, Environmental Club, French Club, and French Honor Society. She also enjoys poetry, dancing (salsa and tango), choir, and athletics.

This fall, Tetruashvily begins classes at the University of Pennsylvania and hopes to pursue laboratory work at The Wistar Institute while going to college. She plans to obtain dual major in biochemistry and either genetics or chemistry, and will work towards earning both an M.D. and Ph.D.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the world's largest pre-college celebration of science. Held annually in May, the Intel ISEF brings together over 1,200 students from 40 nations to compete for scholarships, tuition grants, internships, scientific field trips and the grand prize: $50,000 college scholarship and a high-performance computer. Science Service founded the ISEF in 1950. Science Service is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the understanding and appreciation of science through publications and educational programs. This year's competition is May 9-15, 2004, in Portland, Oregon.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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