Since Fall 2015, I have been an intern at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a component of my senior practicum. I work in a research lab in the psychology department under Dr. James Klosky, who specializes in cancer survivorship research. Our lab works to determine the psychological factors that influence vaccination acceptance and initiation for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in childhood cancer survivors. Since HPV is known to cause cervical cancer and cancer survivors are more prone to complications caused by HPV, studying the mental processes and behaviors of survivors plays an important role in determining if we can increase vaccine usage.
Our lab also studies what factors influence sperm cryopreservation (or banking) utilization in adolescents and young adult males newly diagnosed with cancer. Childhood cancer survival rates are increasing, but treatment often has negative effects on fertility, which in turn can cause psychological distress. We are trying to determine why this widely available and effective fertility preservation process is underutilized in this vulnerable population.
Working with St. Jude has been an amazing professional experience. I have co-authored several research abstracts and posters presented at national conferences, and I am currently contributing to manuscripts that will soon be submitted for journal publication. I am so glad and privileged for the opportunity to produce professional academic works and experience working in a clinical research setting.
Lauren Dahlke (Psychology, ’15)