Darius Blanding - Research

During his freshman year at North Carolina A&T, Darius Blanding heard a classmate discussing his work with cancer research.

Living in a small town, research of any kind was not something he had been exposed to, but after witnessing his best friend succumb to leukemia, his interest in the topic grew.

Now the sophomore biology/pre-med major is conducting his own research regarding brain tumor cells under the advisement of Dr. Patrick Martin. His work involves testing the proliferation, or growth, of glioblastoma cells.

“We are utilizing two different organic compounds synthesized in an A&T chemistry lab as inhibitors of the cell growth,” Blanding said.

Conducting research gives him the opportunity to apply what he has learned in class, he said.

“I enjoy being able to participate in the work that you usually don’t see or hear about,” said Blanding, 19. “Being that cancer is such a large issue, I also enjoy being able to work in a laboratory just to contribute to this global search for a cure.”

A native of Manning, S.C., Blanding knew after taking high school biology courses and learning about such topics as genetics and viral infections that a career in science would be in his future.

While he enjoys the challenges that come with conducting research, he looks forward to one day interacting with patients as a physician. Following his undergraduate studies, he plans to attend medical school and specialize in field of obstetrics.

“Combining my love of helping others with my interest in the sciences made the field of medicine my aspiration,” he said.

Blanding began his academic career at A&T as a Lewis and Elizabeth Dowdy Scholar. Since that time, he has become a member of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, the Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society, of which he was named the 2012-2013 Mr. Tri-Beta, the Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society, and the Student University Activities Board.

He also serves as an A&T Honors Program mentor to incoming freshman and volunteers at the Elimu Learning Center, where he tutors refugee high school students from Africa and Asia.

Last summer, Blanding participated in the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at Yale University School of Medicine. There he attended accelerated science and writing courses, while he also shadowed a Yale-New Haven Hospital neurologist.

“This program has been a great opportunity for me to plan for my future,” Blanding said. “It has given me a chance to live among medical students and interact with them on a daily basis.”

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