Erika Chelales 415x260

Theta Foundation Grants: Helping Advance Cancer Therapy Innovations

Category: Foundation

Erika Chelales

Alpha Phi, Tulane

As a doctoral candidate in biomedical engineering, my research focuses on the development of low-cost ablative therapies for cancer treatment. I submitted a scientific abstract that was accepted for an oral presentation at the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) Annual Scientific Meeting in Boston, MA. The SIR Annual Scientific Meeting brings together physicians, scientists, allied health professionals, and engineers working on interventional radiology innovations for discussion, education, and collaboration. Grant funding from the Theta Foundation helped support the financial costs of attending the SIR meeting, which presented an incredible opportunity to share my doctoral research, receive expert feedback, and learn about innovations in interventional radiology.

My scientific abstract oral presentation detailed my research investigating a novel, low-cost ablative therapy for drug delivery. I was also invited to give a second presentation as part of a doctoral student and allied scientist five-minute research pitch and competition. For the competition, I presented the main focuses of my doctoral research work. The opportunity to engage with conference attendees through two talks allowed me to engage with attendees to form research collaborations. I am applying what I learned to my experimental plans for the final year of my doctoral research.

The SIR Meeting was not only an amazing experience to expand my research interests in development of low-cost, minimally invasive cancer therapies, but also an excellent opportunity for networking and professional development. I was able to engage in scientific discussion with my peers, attend panels for career development and female and minority experiences in STEM and medicine, and participate in workshops on scientific writing and publication. I spoke with several scientists, clinicians, and engineers about their careers and gained insights from their experiences and advice. I left the conference with a more focused plan of my post-graduation career goals.

Receiving financial support from Theta Foundation for this experience showed me that Theta truly values the academic, personal, and professional development of its members. The conference experience was instrumental in guiding my doctoral research work, informing my future career plans, and furthering my education about techniques and innovations in interventional radiology. I am so thankful for the financial support from Theta Foundation and its donors for making this experience possible.

Are you interested in applying for a Theta Foundation grant? The 2022-2023 Chapter & Individual Grant applications are now available! College and alumnae chapters and individual Thetas are eligible to apply for grant funding to pursue non-degree educational, leadership, and service-learning opportunities. You can find more information on the Apply for Scholarships & Grants page of this website.