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Student Highlights: Grace Keegan (COL. '21)


Grace Keegan is a senior in the College majoring in Biology of Global Health and minoring in Spanish. Following graduation, Grace intends to pursue an MD/MPH degree.

Involvement in Research:

Grace is interested in the health field, with a particular interest in Oncology. Wanting to help cancer patients, she sought out research in the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown and has made many connections during her time there. Grace describes herself as a very curious person who truly loves to learn, so research was a field where she could immerse herself in hands-on learning.

Grace started researching at the Lombardi Cancer Center, focusing on a liver cancer prevention clinical trial under the mentorship of Dr. Fung Lung Chung. From this experience, she learned fundamental lab techniques that have helped her excel in her research. She then connected with a collaborator at Northwestern University and started conducting research on breast cancer while she was back at home in Chicago, Illinois for the summers. The first summer she assisted on a project focused upon the BRCA1 gene, and the next summer she pursued an independent project on the BCL9 gene. She has continued this type of breast cancer research at Dr. Priscilla Furth’s lab at Georgetown University Medical Center because she has found this field to be very intriguing. She is now working on a thesis project on gene signatures for breast cancer in aging mouse models.

Not only does Grace research in a lab about cancer, but she also spent her junior year researching under the mentorship of Dr. Christopher King in the NHS regarding health disparities for a project which contributed to the Georgetown University report "Health Disparities for the Black Community: An Imperative for Racial Equity in the District of Columbia." Her project focused on disparities in the African American Community in D.C. One of the most surprising facts she discovered was that the life expectancy difference between the wards is 16 years between the ward with the highest percentage of African American residents as compared to the ward with the highest percentage of Caucasian residents. 


These experiences have been extremely meaningful in preparing her to continue conducting research in medical school and as a physician. Grace wants to care for patients while contributing to innovative efforts to improve the future of care and personalized medicine, so her undergraduate research experiences have been very valuable in preparing her to best address new challenges and provide insights into research efforts. Her health disparities research has confirmed her interest in pursuing an MD/MPH degree to both address issues of health equity from a clinical and policy/systemic approach in her future.

Written by Danya Adams, Orion Gangopadhyay, and Nesreen Shahrour