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East Rutherford teen wins national recognition for his cancer research

The Record, Bergen County logo The Record, Bergen County 11/9/2021 Citlalli Godinez,

There are only 20 students across the country recognized each year for the Davidson Fellows Scholarship program, and this year, an East Rutherford native took home a prize. 

Patryk Dabek, 18, was awarded $10,000 forfour-year research project exploring a chemotherapy alternative for cancer treatment. 

"Having my research highlighted on the national stage has widened the audience my research can reach and positively impact," said Dabek, a graduate of Bergen County Academies. 

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His study aims to improve patient care by overcoming the limitations of traditional cancer treatments.

"By selectively halting a key component of cancer metabolism, my project has shown that cancer cells can be selectively targeted [by treatments] without harming normal cells, thus holding the promise of an effective therapy for cancer patients," Dabek said. 

Dabek during his volunteer work with the East Rutherford ambulance squad. © Davidson Institute Dabek during his volunteer work with the East Rutherford ambulance squad.

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship program offers college scholarships to students 18 or younger whose projects have the potential to benefit society in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature and music. 

Dabek said volunteering with the borough’s ambulance squad and working with cancer patients sparked his interest in finding a cure. 

His high school teachers nurtured that spark. "Under the guidance of Mrs. [Alyssa] Waldron and Dr. [David] Reeves in the Nano Structural Imaging Lab at the Bergen County Academies, I was able to discover my passion for science and research," Dabek said.  

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His classmates noticed his dedication to his research.

"I have distinct memories of Patryk walking into class, clutching his lab notebook and grinning from ear to ear because of a new development in his research project," said classmate Jessica Lee. 

He would sometimes skip his entire lunch period, choosing to feed his cells in the lab instead of himself, she said. 

Dabek's project also earned him a spot in the top 100 in the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation's most prestigious science and math competition for high school students. 

Now a student at Yale University, he says his dream job would involve interacting with individual patients while also working as a scientist to develop technologies that can improve lives globally. 

To watch his abstract:

This article originally appeared on East Rutherford teen wins national recognition for his cancer research


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