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WJU, Wheeling Hospital Team Up

September 30, 2013
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Wheeling native Alexandra Delatore is the 2013 recipient of the Jacober Scholarship, enabling the Wheeling Jesuit University student to continue her education by working at Wheeling Hospital's Schiffler Cancer Center.

Dr. Gregory S. Merrick, leading international prostate cancer specialist and executive director of Schiffler's Urologic Research Institute made the scholarship announcement recently.

A graduate of Wheeling Park High School, Delatore is a senior biology major at WJU. She performs research and statistical analysis at the Schiffler Cancer Center, under the guidance of Merrick, as part of the award.

Article Photos

Presenting Alexandra Delatore with the Jacober Scholarship award is Dr. Gregory Merrick, director of Schiffler’s Urologic Research Institute at Wheeling Hospital and the Rev. Donald Serva, S.J., academic associate in biology.
Photo Provided

"I have gained so much knowledge while working with Dr. Merrick, not just with cancer, but research as a whole. Right now I am working on a research project for Dr. Merrick focusing on prostate cancer predictors that are statistically significant as an indication of needed treatment. I hope to be able to use all of the skills and knowledge I have acquired here in my future career," Delatore said.

Delatore, the daughter of Elio and Melissa Delatore, said she plans to enter graduate school in the field of public health with the hopes of continuing on to a career in clinical research.

Jeffrey M. Jacober Scholarship Fund was established at Wheeling Jesuit in 2007 for students studying in the field of physics. Created by the family of Rhode Island businessman Jeffrey M. Jacober, it provides annual support to a deserving physics student at the university while offering practical experience at the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital.

"Students benefit tremendously from workplace collaborations and we are pleased to continue this learning partnership with the Urologic Research Institute and the Schiffler Cancer Center," said Rev. James Fleming, S.J., president of Wheeling Jesuit University. "I thank Dr. Merrick and his team for giving Alexandra the chance to receive this hands-on learning opportunity."

"My team and I have been conducting groundbreaking research for years. In the Urologic Research Institute we have created an entity that will better allow us to promote, raise funds for, and achieve our goals. We are grateful to Wheeling Jesuit University and the Schiffler Cancer Center at Wheeling Hospital for helping to make this Institute a reality, and we congratulate Alexandra on her selection as the 2013 Jacober Scholar," said Merrick.

Jacober was founder and CEO of the Ocean Group Inc., the parent corporation of medical accessory company, MEDport LLC, established in 1999. A true entrepreneur, Jacober was a resident of Providence and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island. In 2004, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and embarked on an exhaustive search to find treatment for his condition, thus becoming a patient of Merrick's at the Schiffler Cancer Center.

He sought to educate the public about health care throughout his life.

Though his plans didn't come to fruition due to his tragic accidental death, this scholarship was established in his name to recognize his intent and belief that research is a key factor in health, and education is paramount.

WJU students and professors play a key role at Wheeling Hospital's Urologic Research Institute. In a unique relationship, students are given an opportunity to work alongside medical professionals, performing innovative research and participating in practical treatment of patients with cancer.

The Schiffler Cancer Center, the Urologic Research Institute and WJU focus on innovative research methods directed toward the effective prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate cancer and other urologic disorders.

WJU established a concentration in medical physics and dosimetry that includes two courses taught by Wheeling Hospital staff - one at the hospital and one at the university campus.

Medical physics, and the subspecialty of medical dosimetry, is a growing area of diagnostic and clinical medicine, and this collaboration of academic inquiry partnered with practical application makes it one-of-a-kind in the United States.

"This is a unique opportunity for our science majors, who gain the chance to be a part of cutting-edge research at the hospital and learn from the country's leading urologic radiation oncologists," said Dr. Peter Ehni, chair of WJU's Department of Physics.

"Alex is a wonderful person and a very good student. She is really blossoming at Wheeling Hospital this summer as she works for Dr. Merrick on cancer treatment research. Practical experience of this kind intensifies the enthusiasm students have for scientific research, and that translates into greater classroom achievements as well," Dr. Jonathan Lief, professor of biology at WJU and Delatore's academic adviser, said.

For more information about Wheeling Jesuit University or the Jacober Scholarship, please call 800-624-6992.

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