Rochelle Fletcher ’13

Rochelle in lab coat doing research in the lab.


Well prepared for future endeavors

As a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Rochelle Fletcher ’13 investigated the actions of several agents used in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer. In her current job as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, her focus has shifted to transplant immunology where she delineates the manner in which cyclophosphamide prevents graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) in cancer patients after a bone marrow transplant. GvHD occurs when the donated bone marrow views the recipient’s body as foreign and attacks it. “As a cancer pharmacologist, I am thoroughly intrigued by the mechanisms in which drugs act, the premise of early intervention detection, and transplant immunology. The great thing about working at the NIH is that this institution has the largest hospital in the world that is dedicated totally to clinical research.” 

Rochelle says one of the best things about Wesleyan is working on research with faculty members who encourage students to participate in summer undergraduate research programs (SURP) like the one she enjoyed at Vanderbilt’s Department of Pharmacology in 2012. “SURP was an opportunity to learn new techniques and conduct cutting-edge research on chemical synthesis. I met engaging, aspiring scientists and medical professionals from all over the world, gained wonderful insight into graduate school, and participated in GRE prep courses.”

As a Munroe Scholar and summa cum laude double major (biology and chemistry), Rochelle, who grew up in the small town of Santa Cruz, Jamaica, conducted research with her biology advisor Dr. Holly Boettger-Tong. She credits her thesis committee - Dr. Boettger-Tong, Dr. Wanda Maynard Schroeder ’80, and Dr. Keith Peterson (retired 2015) – for much of her success. “Wesleyan prepares students for top graduate institutions and for their careers. Not for one moment have I forgotten the experiences that made my days at Wesleyan College memorable. I encourage students to dedicate themselves to making the next era of their lives even better, build on their strengths, and forge ahead, while upholding their values and principles.”

This article ran in WESmag Spring 2019 issue.

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