Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Sciences
Assistant Professor of Oncology | Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center | Buffalo, N.Y.
Dr. Megan Herr doesn’t like mice.
However, it was those small creatures that actually pointed her on the career path that would ultimately lead to her current work in cancer research.
“One summer, while I was a student at Daemen, I participated in a Natural Science Foundation research experience in Pennsylvania tracking mice in a field and how they affect Lyme disease,” explains Herr. “As much as I don’t like mice, I was taken by the research aspect of the experience. That was the start of my interest in scientific research.”
Herr notes she started in physical therapy at Daemen and changed her major three times before courses in epidemiology and biostatistics really clicked with her. The college’s individualized studies program allowed Herr to tailor courses to her interests in research leading to a degree in natural sciences. She says Daemen faculty encouraged her to continue her studies, and, following graduation, she entered the University of Rochester where she earned a doctorate in epidemiology in 2015.
Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that deals with the incidence and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to public health. Herr’s interests focused on cancer and risk factors for second cancers, interests that were influenced by the deaths of her grandmother and a young cousin from the disease. While working on her doctorate, she served as a research assistant at the University of Rochester Medical Center and then went on to become a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Washington, D.C.
At NCI, Herr participated in research on the late effects of hematological malignancies and had a paper published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, something she humbly describes as a pretty big deal for a young researcher. One of her most recent research projects focused on late melanoma development following stem cell transplants.
She accepted her current position at Roswell Park this spring where she is working in a clinical department with the center’s bone marrow transplant team. Her job includes working with the team on accreditations and database functions, at the same time she continues her cancer research. She says she is happy to be back in Buffalo where she lives with her husband and has family throughout the area.
“It was really important to me to be in a clinical department where I know my work is making a difference for people,” Herr concludes. “This is something I took away from service learning opportunities at Daemen that taught me to think about what I was doing and why, and what effect it will have on the greater good.