Until recently, the molecular events that drive cancer have been difficult to grasp, let alone control. The confluence of advanced technologies that allow us to visualize these processes at the genetic and cellular level promise to fundamentally alter the care of cancer patients.

Dr. Chuck Clevenger, Professor and Chair of Pathology and Associate Director of Precision Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, presented to the virtual international delegation of the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) on our capacity to dissect cancer cell signaling pathways at molecular and genetic levels and how this has enabled biologists to identify new therapeutic targets by re-purposing the old. Genomics and bioinformatics enhance our ability to identify the “Achilles heel” of each cancer and enable the targeted use of significantly less toxic molecular therapies.

“These topics really clue the delegates into the future of medicine, or at least to therapeutic approaches in cancer and a variety of other disciplines,” said Dr. Clevenger. 

As a board certified pathologist, Dr. Clevenger gave a rich perspective on current diagnostic and therapeutic approaches currently used for targeted breast cancer therapy.

 “Increasingly, our therapies will be directed by our traditional techniques, but the genes within the tissues are telling us so much about the pathology,” he elaborated. 

“The NYSCamp is a tremendous resource that needs to be brought to more people’s attention. It is a true hidden treasure,” Dr. Clevenger said. “First and foremost it is a valuable experience to the delegates as a chance for them to explore, listen, learn, and hear cutting-edge science. It’s very hard to get all these things all in one place, and the NYSCamp does this very well.”

“Personally, NYSCamp gave me a chance to get outside myself to explore different [fields] with directed studies, giving ample time for this important phase of exploration. Now, as a lecturer, I love to meet all the delegates and to interact with all the esteemed scientists visiting from different backgrounds and fields,” Dr. Clevenger said. 

About the National Youth Science Camp: Hosted in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia since 1963, the National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a residential science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program designed to honor and challenge some of the nation’s rising leaders and provide them with opportunities to engage with STEM professionals and participate in exciting outdoor activities. Typically, two delegates are selected to attend camp from each state and the District of Columbia. In partnership with the U.S. State Department, we also host international delegates. Past countries represented include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago. Housing, meals, transportation, and supplies are provided to participants at no cost. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, now for the 3rd consecutive year, the 2022 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is an entirely virtual experience.