Blount Contributes to Promising Discovery in Cancer Research

| Alumni

Allie Blount headshotSenior Allie Blount was always interested in science, but it wasn’t until a cancer biology class at Trevecca that she found her calling in oncology.

“I discovered my passion,” Blount said. “The class was instrumental in starting me on a different pathway than the one I thought I wanted to be on.” 

Allie’s interest in Cancer Biology lead her to join the cancer research group here at Trevecca where she was taught the principles of cancer cell culture which confirmed her desire to do research. She applied for and was accepted to an undergraduate research program at Meharry Medical College, where she spent weeks in the lab learning about and experimenting with different types of cancer research.
A key area of her research was triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive form of the disease.  

“The terrible thing about triple negative breast cancer is that it doesn’t have the markers that breast cancer typically has so there is no way for the body to identify it as foreign. Medicine is unable to target it effectively so we use chemotherapy but that attacks healthy cells as well,” Blount said. “Most of these women are diagnosed in the late stage and don’t last more than a year or two. This is why it is so important to find answers.” 

Blount was excited to join a team experimenting with two drugs that had never been used before for breast cancer. They made progress that may be revolutionary in the fight to extend the lives of women facing a severe diagnosis.
“I did experiments through the summer and fall and found that these two treatments together reduced the invasion and migration of the cancer cells,” Blount said. “This could mean we may be able to reduce the amount of cells that infiltrate the bloodstream which is crucial for triple negative breast cancer because it is very metastatic.” 

Blount’s work did not go unnoticed and in November 2022, she presented at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists. 

“I presented my research in front of world renowned cancer biology faculty from different medical schools and research institutes throughout the nation. I ended up doing really well and won the award for cancer biology in my class,” Blount said. 

As she looks to her next steps post graduation, Blount has taken a particular interest in pediatric cancer patients following her time working in the pediatric emergency room at Vanderbilt Medical Center. 

“There is a resilience these kids have and there's a lot of hope,” Blount said. “I’ve gotten to see a lot of kids come in and get diagnosed with cancer. It is all incredibly sad but the resilience they have is something I want to be a part of and I want to help protect their innocence.”

In addition to pediatric oncology, she is passionate about applied neuroscience research, and plans to continue on into higher education, pursuing her MD/Ph.D. in cancer biology and neuroscience.