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Cancer symposium to be held March 8 at BYU



O’Neill to encourage high school and undergrads to pursue cancer research

There are very few families not affected by the heartbreak of cancer. Loved ones suffer physically, emotionally, and financially as this insidious disease ravages mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children.

On March 8 a free cancer symposium will be held at BYU Conference center. To register for a seat and to ensure entry email   

The American Association of Cancer Research is partnering with the BYU Simmons Center to produce the event. One of the organizers, Dr. O’Neill is a professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology at BYU. To date, the foundations of cancer treatment have always been surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In the past few years antibody- based drugs that target cancer cells by homing in on specific molecular markers on the surface of cancer cells, have proven useful as standard treatments for many cancers. These recent developments will be discussed by distinguished speakers at the symposium.

In the afternoon session Dr. Scott Weber, a cancer immunologist, will talk about the development of cancer and how cells become cancerous.  Dr. Michelle Townsend, will speak about recent advances in cancer immunotherapy  research and Zachary Ewell, a BYU undergraduate involved in cancer research will relate his experience in becoming involved in a cancer research team.

In the evening Dr.  O’Neill will explain how cancer develops and current research breakthroughs, then Kim White a cancer fighter and survivor, will tell her remarkable story, Dr. Michael Boyer from the Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt-lake will be the concluding speaker explaining about progress in cancer immunotherapy.  The symposium is geared toward the lay public everyone is invited admission is free but it is best to register to ensure a seat.

Dr. O’Neill graduated from Ulster University in Ireland, he has been at BYU for the last 27 years, and one of the many faculty involved in the Simmons Cancer Research Center at BYU, “I have always been fascinated by cancer how it develops and progresses and how our immune system fails to recognize the tumor cells. Both my parents died of cancer and I have committed my life to research this deadly disease.”


His motivation for being involved in Simmons Cancer Research Center at BYU is to help attract high school students and college freshman into the research field, to give them information about possible careers in cancer research. Session 1 of the symposium will focus on high school students. It will be held from 5-6 pm. Session 2 will focus on new discoveries and treatments for cancer.  Anyone with an interest in cancer is welcome to attend, a question and answer period will be held for anyone in attendance. Questions will be answered by a panel of distinguished experts.