Sarah Bonaparte, a May 2015 biology graduate, was recently hired for a year-long contract through Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education for a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) serology laboratory fellowship in the chronic viral disease branch at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
“My research experience at Belmont with Dr. Jennifer Thomas concerning HPV and its relationship to cervical cancer not only contributed to my knowledge and experience in this particular field, but encouraged me to pursue research as a career. I am excited to be able to continue pursuing research in a field I am interested in while preparing to apply to doctorate programs for the fall of 2016,” said Bonaparte.
Bonaparte will be working as a laboratory technologist by processing samples, conducting a variety of molecular tests and performing data analysis to aid in seroepidemiologic and vaccine studies. Bonaparte’s position falls under the division of high consequence pathogens and pathology, responsible for investigating outbreaks, identifying and monitoring diseases and improving ways to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases. Under this division, the chronic viral disease branch is responsible for the research of HPV and chronic fatigue syndrome. Bonaparte will conduct vaccine and population studies regarding HPV infectivity.
Bonaparte explained her passion for working in this field. “HPV is an important and relevant topic of research because the viral infection serves as a precursor to cervical cancer. It is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, and nearly all sexually active men and women will be infected in their lifetime. Developing a vaccine with maximum efficacy, as well as investigating viral infection and cancer development at varying molecular levels, has the potential to greatly reduce the incidences of cervical cancer worldwide,” she said. “I chose to work in HPV research because of its impact in cervical cancer development (as well as penile and oropharyngeal cancers in men). Broadly, I am fascinated by the role that particular viral infections play in the development of various cancers.”
Bonaparte will begin her fellowship at the end of June. Her research experience at such a well-respected institution will allow her to be a more competitive candidate when applying for graduate programs.