Biomedical engineering students honored as Pelotonia Scholars

Posted: September 14, 2023

Two up-and-coming cancer researchers from The Ohio State University College of Engineering have been recognized by the Pelotonia Scholars Program.

Biomedical engineering students Brendan Fuller and Grant Schrieber were recently named 2023 Pelotonia Scholars, a prestigious award aimed at funding the next generation of scientists to bring us closer to a cancer-free world. The program trains promising and accomplished undergraduate, graduate, medical and postdoctoral students from any discipline who have the potential to become independent cancer researchers. Admitted students engage in groundbreaking research with faculty mentors at the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Brendan Fuller (headshot)

Competition for a Pelotonia Scholarship award is fierce. Each year, approximately 75 graduate applications and 80 undergraduate applications are submitted. Fuller and Schrieber are among just 21 students to receive the scholarship in 2023.

Fuller, a graduate student pursuing his PhD, will work on his project, “Measuring Driver Kinase Activity of Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells in 3-Dimensional Extracellular Matrices.” His faculty mentor is Jonathan Song, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and co-director of the Center for Cancer Engineering.

Biology needs to be studied in a 3D context to be relevant especially in diseases that are heavily dependent on their environment such as cancer,” said Fuller. “Better 3D in vitro systems will help streamline cancer discoveries and allow us to tackle some of the current hurdles in cancer research.”

Undergraduate student Schrieber will also work with Song on his project, “Profiling the biophysical properties of collagen-alginate hydrogels for 3-D in vitro tumor modeling.”

Grant Schrieber (headshot)

“The inspiration of my project stems from my maternal grandma’s battle against breast cancer,” said Schrieber. “I wanted to use my research on breast cancer as a means to honor her successful battle.”

The Graduate Scholars Program provides a two-year research award. Receiving a Pelotonia Graduate Scholarship award gives graduate students the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the field of cancer research, and to develop and work on their own independent projects. Graduate scholars are paid a competitive annual stipend (~$34K), and Ohio State’s Graduate School pays their fees and tuition.

The Undergraduate Scholars Program provides recipients with a one-year research award. Because most students have financial responsibilities and are not able to volunteer as research assistants in cancer research labs, undergraduate scholars are paid $15 an hour for up to $12,000 annually to work on their independent research projects. This stipend allows them to fulfill their financial responsibilities while gaining valuable experience in moving the field of cancer research forward and developing their own projects. During the summer, they are expected to put full-time effort into their projects, and part-time effort during the academic year.

The Pelotonia Scholars Program started in 2010 and has awarded 606 student scholar awards through an annual allocation of $2 million in Pelotonia revenue for this program. Scholar recipients include 278 undergraduates, 184 graduates, 138 postdoctoral fellows and six medical students.

contributions from the Department of Biomedical Engineering