Ege Gungor Onal joined the CCIL’s Cancer Scholars Program (CSP) as a freshman in 2018. Inspired by his CSP classes, he joined CCIL Program Leader Brian Cunningham’s lab to perform cancer diagnostics research which included developing a cancer liquid biopsy device. In 2020, he became a CSP mentor, assisting young cancer scholars with personal growth and career plans.

“My experience as a Cancer Scholar made me realize the need to expand the sphere of cancer research advocacy across the Illinois campus. To that end, I co-founded the Cancer Center at Illinois Student Organization (CCIL-SO) and served as its first president. Together with 26 students across seven committees, we led fundraisers, spread awareness for cancer research, and hosted cancer research seminars and alumni events to encourage support for cancer research. I would suggest to any student interested in joining the fight against cancer, check out CCIL-SO.”

Ege Gungor Onal, Cancer Scholars Program Alumnus

“It was an honor to be a part of the CCIL, and I am forever grateful for the people and experiences the CCIL brought to my life.”

After graduation, Ege went on to become a technical associate in Prof. Robert S. Langer’s laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he focused on engineering a tumor-selective nanotherapy for solid tumors. Ege continues his ongoing research project at MIT in parallel with additional clinical research projects he performs now as a M.D./Ph.D. student at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

“I am energized each day to learn about the human body, diseases, treatments, doctor-patient interaction, and areas we need to improve in clinical practice. The CCIL really empowered me to embark on this cutting-edge cancer research journey. The mentorship I received from Prof. Cunningham and my experiences in the lab motivated me to pursue additional research endeavors on campus and over the summer at Mayo Clinic. Those experiences have resulted in multiple journal publications and conference abstracts. Furthermore, these experiences have uniquely prepared me to be creative in the laboratory and independently run my experiments at MIT.”

“One of the greatest strengths of the CCIL lies in the foundation of the people. The support and mentorship I received from CCIL leaders has been the cornerstone of my success. I am very grateful to many people, including Dr. Brian T. Cunningham, Dr. Marci Pool, Dr. Andrew M. Smith, Dr. Rohit Bhargava, Amber Lannert, and many more. It was an honor to be a part of the CCIL, and I am forever grateful for the people and experiences the CCIL brought to my life.”

This story was written by Jonathan King, CCIL Communications Specialist