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Saturday, September 23, 2023

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Mentorship in Action: Cancer Researchers Unlock Secrets of Tumor Growth

For doctoral student Jennifer Waters, mentor Carrie House has been essential to her development as a research scientist.
By Kellie Woodhouse

“She’s truly engaged in her work and brings new ideas and hypotheses for us to discuss and explore.”

When Jennifer Waters was looking for a graduate school, at the top of her wish list was a faculty mentor who would fully invest in her research career.

As she considered San Diego State University’s joint doctoral program in cell and molecular biology, cancer researcher Carrie House stood out as just the kind of mentor who would offer Waters the guidance and mentorship she needed to become a successful research scientist. 

“I hit the jackpot with Carrie,” the biologist said. 

“Carrie has really encouraged me to develop my scientific thinking,” Waters continued, noting that the two have written grants, book chapters and scientific papers together. “I’ve learned so much in the years I’ve been in her lab, and under her guidance I hope to develop a similarly enriching mentoring style going forward when I work with younger students.”

House and Waters study the role of obesity in ovarian cancer progression. 

Waters’ work focuses on how fat cells affect metastasis by secreting proteins that allow cancer cells to anchor and attach to healthy cells and form tumors. Her work complements House’s other projects that consider how obesity can sustain drug resistant cancer cells and cause relapse in breast and ovarian cancers.

House joined SDSU in 2018 from the National Institutes of Health, where she worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Women’s Malignancies Branch at the National Cancer Institute, studying drug resistance and relapse in ovarian and breast cancers. Waters came to SDSU that same year after working at Organovo, a San Diego biotechnology company that uses 3D printing to study liver disease. 

Waters has been critical in helping House set up shop at SDSU, including recruiting and training undergraduates in the lab.

“Jenny’s been essential to developing my cancer research lab here at SDSU,” said House. “She’s truly engaged in her work and brings new ideas and hypotheses for us to discuss and explore.”