Meet 5 For The Fight Fellow: Ben Myers, PhD
Dr. Ben Myers is solving the mystery of why cancer treatments stop working with help from his 5 For The Fight Fellowship.
“My 5 is for two of my former colleagues whom I lost to cancer. I think losing two people who were really close to me, and who happened to be scientists, made me realize that nobody is immune from this disease. It also underscored the importance of the work we’re all doing as a community of cancer researchers — so that one day those tumors won’t be fatal.”
— Ben Myers
Ben Myers never expected to be a cancer researcher. He first started out his career in neuroscience, studying how we sense pain as a result of very hot or very cold temperatures.
“I started thinking about the ways in which our bodies develop and how cancer cells hijack that process to make cells grow out of control,” he says. “I realized that a lot of what I had learned by studying proteins in the nervous system could really apply to cancer biology in a way that other people weren’t necessarily thinking about.”
Myers works on a key issue in treating cancer patients — when certain medications stop being effective. His research focuses on developing better drugs that will get around this issue, but he realized we didn’t understand basic aspects of the molecules that we were developing drugs against.
“It’s like a child’s birthday party where there is a piñata, and the kids are trying to hit the piñata, but they have blindfolds on,” he says. “They may be able to hit it if you give them enough time, but it would make a heck of a lot more sense if they could take off their blindfolds.”
The 5 For The Fight Fellowship asked researchers to study an idea that could lead to a breakthrough. It allows researchers to seed new projects and closes the gaps to obtaining critical staff and materials.
“Doing innovative work as a scientist is a ‘chicken-and-egg’ dilemma because often when you’ve got a new idea, you can’t run with it right away,” Myers says. “You can’t secure traditional funding until you can show that your idea going to work, but at the same time you can’t take those key first steps without some initial funding.
“The 5 For The Fight fellowship is absolutely critical to my lab because it is helping us make those key first steps toward innovation.”
Advice for Young Scientists
“Don’t follow the same path that everyone else follows. Do something different, and don’t be afraid to make a big change. There are still a lot of really big unanswered questions.”
Find out more about the research you have helped fund through the 5 For The Fight Cancer Research Fellowship at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
5 For The Fight invites everyone to give $5 for the fight against cancer at 5forthefight.org