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Breast Cancer Research with Dr. Hutchinson

Are you interested in research experiences during your undergraduate education? Look no further, as Furman provides multiple avenues for research experience no matter your major.

Our department offers a number of opportunities for exposure to the research process during the academic year, but we have one example to share from the previous summer.

During the summer months, Dr. Randy Hutchinson and three student fellows delved into some new and exciting research that has continued into the fall semester.

The USC Greenville School of Medicine Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Prisma Health Cancer Institute collaborated with Dr. Hutchinson to study the mitochondrial function of breast cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy via Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS).

Research indicates cancer patients experience higher rates of of skeletal and cardiac muscle dysfunction, which in turn affects their quality of life. Chemotherapy appears to damage skeletal muscle mitochondria, but not enough research exists to stake a claim.

Fortunately, it has been supported through research that exercise mitigates the harmful effect of chemotherapy on skeletal muscle. From this knowledge, the study came into being. For Dr. Hutchinson’s research, breast cancer patients cycled on a bike while a non-invasive NIRS system device measured change in the their muscle oxygenation.

James Lalonde, one of the student researchers who worked on this project, says this experience has only reaffirmed his desire to work within the healthcare field. While the research process has been difficult, complex, and time-consuming, James thinks about the end result of the research and the way in which it could alleviate some of effects of breast cancer and improve the lives of others.

He plans to pursue medical school after graduating from Furman, but is also maintaining an open-mind to the diverse areas of healthcare he could discover an interest in.

Check out our faculty to view alternate fields of research within Health Sciences – maybe you could even connect and collaborate with one of our faculty during your time at Furman!