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Ivy Blog

Staff Spotlight: James McNamara

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Job title: Research Technician
Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

What made you want to work for the Ivy Brain Tumor Center?

The opportunity to continue discovering what underlying mechanisms drive glioblastoma stem cell maintenance and resistance to treatment. As an undergraduate, I worked in a lab at Barrow Neurological Institute that studied glioma stem cells.

What does it mean to you to work for the Ivy Center?

It is a great feeling to know that what I do each day is leading to a cure for such a complex disease.

What motivated you to get into the medical field, specifically research?

I always wanted to become a doctor. After my first year of college, I joined a lab at Barrow, unsure if I would enjoy research. I was looking for exposure to research since I knew I would have to complete a senior thesis for my degree. After that summer, I was hooked on research. 

What’s the culture like at the Ivy Center? What makes working here different than other research centers?

The collaborative nature of the Ivy Center is my favorite part. I love having the opportunity to work with people who are experts in their fields and continually expand my knowledge.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Working directly with patient-derived tumor cell lines, my coworkers, and being at a center trying new therapies that could impact patient lives.

What is it like to know that you’re playing an integral role in identifying new therapies that will contribute to a cure for brain cancer?

I feel humbled that I have such an excellent opportunity to work here.

What keeps you motivated when dealing with such a complex disease?

Knowing that our work directly impacts potential treatment options for patients keeps me motivated. What is exciting is that if we find a successful treatment in preclinical studies, that treatment can be tested in patients via our Phase 0 trials to test its efficacy.

Explain your role in the research being conducted at the Ivy Center?

I assist with preclinical drug studies. In addition to preclinical studies, I work with Dr. Lo Cascio and Dr. Mehta on identifying and targeting therapeutic vulnerabilities using preclinical models of GBM.

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Ivy Center