UK HealthCare

UK Hosts 'Meet the Researchers Day' for Local Middle Schools


LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 26, 2012) — The first-ever 'Meet the Researchers Day' at the University of Kentucky was held to reward the cancer fundraising efforts of two local middle schools. Students from Bourbon County Middle School (BCMS) in Paris, Ky., and Lexington Traditional Magnet School (LTMS) visited the Biomedical/Biological Sciences Research Building on UK's campus and learned more about how the money they raised for Pennies for Patients will help further cancer research.

After a formal introduction by Dr. Kathleen O'Connor, researcher and associate director of cancer education for the UK Markey Cancer Center, the students had the opportunity to rotate between presentations by Dr. John D'Orazio, pediatric hematologist/oncologist; Dr. Dennie Jones, deputy director for the UK Markey Cancer Center; and Dr. Ying Liang, assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. The students were also given a tour of Markey's research lab space in the BBSRB.

"The students put a great deal of effort into raising money for cancer research, which is badly needed. It was an honor to show our appreciation for their efforts,” O'Connor said. "It was rewarding to teach them about cancer and what we are doing to improve the lives of people with cancer."

Pennies for Patients is the annual fundraiser for the School & Youth division of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It encourages students to collect spare change during a set three-week time frame early in the year. Funds raised support leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research; patient and community service; public health education; and professional education.

"All of the students who participated across our chapter’s territory were told about the importance of blood cancer research, but we felt if a few schools had the opportunity to see researchers in action, it would make the students truly engage the program," said Shelia Gustafson, School & Youth Campaign Manager of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. "I hope that some of these students may consider becoming cancer researchers after having firsthand experience. I would love to see this become an annual event that will encourage even more schools to hold successful Pennies for Patients programs."

Kentucky schools participating in Pennies for Patients had to raise a minimum of $1,000 to win the chance to attend Meet the Researchers Day. Out of 103 eligible schools across the state, BCMS and LTMS were chosen in a random drawing, raising $2,025 and $1,643, respectively.   

"I liked it," said 13-year-old Isaiah Cordray, an 8th-grader at LTMS. "It was a nice way to get out and see how people are treating cancer."

To learn more about the Pennies for Patients program, visit

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