Randy Lesh of Scranton, a member of Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine's MD class of 2022, received an Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Carolyn L. Kuckein Research Fellowship.

AOA bestows about 50 awards annually "to foster the development of the next generation of medical researchers." AOA is the national medical honor society.

Lesh's winning proposal is entitled, "Developing biomarkers of therapeutic response in rectal carcinoma."

"My research project is focused on developing a method to use an individual's genetic information to more precisely treat their cancer," Randy said. "I am working with Sanjeevani Arora, Ph.D. and Joshua Meyer, MD, a radiation oncologist, who are both at Fox Chase Cancer Center.We plan to obtain hybrid DNA damage recognition and repair capacity signatures from individuals with rectal cancer. We will then compare these genetic markers of DNA damage response between rectal cancer patients who responded well to treatment (had a decrease in tumor mass) and those who did not. We are interested in determining if this genetic data can predict the magnitude of benefit from neoadjuvant chemoradiation therapy -- a first step to shrink a tumor before the main treatment, which is usually surgery."

According to AOA, the fellowships are extremely competitive and are meant to provide support for clinical investigation, basic laboratory research, epidemiology, social science/health services research, leadership or professionalism. Funds from the fellowship are expected to be the major source of support for the student. Only one candidate from each school may be nominated. A student may only receive one fellowship during medical school. The fellowship program honors Carolyn L. Kuckein, long-time administrator of AOA and an honorary member of the society, who died in 2004.

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (Geisinger Commonwealth) is a member of the Geisinger family. Geisinger Commonwealth offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Danville, Doylestown, Scranton, Sayre and Wilkes-Barre. Geisinger Commonwealth offers Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) degrees. The college's innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its region in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania, as well as from across the state and the nation. Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit www.geisinger.edu/gcsom.