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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Biology professor Khadijah Mitchell to depart for top cancer center

Professor Khadijah Mitchell will have the opportunity to teach at various medical schools at her new job. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College Communications)

Khadijah Mitchell, an assistant professor of biology, is leaving Lafayette to become an assistant professor of cancer prevention and control at one of the world’s leading centers for cancer research.

“I’ve had a great experience with teaching,” Mitchell, whose new position at the Fox Chase Cancer Research Center will focus more on her research and mentoring in the laboratory, said.

Mitchell joined Lafayette in 2017 as a visiting assistant professor after working at the National Institute of Health’s National Cancer Institute as a post-doctoral fellow.

“I always felt like I had great professors, and I’m a first-generation college student, so professors really helped me understand how science worked and helped me kind of figure out my path,” Mitchell said. “I always appreciated those professors. So I thought like one day, I’d love to give back in that way.”

At Lafayette, Mitchell taught biology courses incorporated with public health research, such as BIOL 257 Public Health Biology and BIOL 347 Precision Medicine. Her labs often integrated her own research from IT LAB — Integrative and Translational Laboratory for Applied Biology — in which her research students can study health disparities in an undergraduate setting.

“People told me you couldn’t do health disparity research at an undergraduate college, and obviously, I did,” Mitchell said.

“IT LAB … has been amazing,” Samantha Greenberg ‘24, who has been a part of the lab since her freshman year, said.

Mitchell’s current research focuses on lung and kidney cancer health disparities in populations, such as higher lung and kidney cancer deaths in Black Americans. She’s had 34 students total in her IT LAB over four years at Lafayette.

Mitchell said she will miss students the most after leaving Lafayette.

“I just have had wonderful, wonderful experiences with my students,” she said.

“She’s been probably my number one mentor here at Lafayette,” Greenberg, who was planning on working on her honors thesis with Mitchell, said. “I’m honestly going to miss her a lot … I’m really happy for her that’s she getting this opportunity to push her research forward.”

While her career will become more researched-focused at Fox Chase, Mitchell will still have the opportunity to mentor researchers and even teach at various medical schools and programs.

The Fox Chase Cancer Center, located in Philadelphia, boasts “advanced treatments, highly experienced teams, and reputation for bold discoveries in cancer care and innovation.” It is a comprehensive cancer center, which means that the “whole person” is treated, according to Mitchell. Physicians and researchers there have received Nobel Prizes in medicine and chemistry, among many other accolades and awards.

Mitchell is looking forward to working with the center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement.

“I study populations, and so the fact that there are teams of community health workers [who] get people to enroll in your research study and partner … is powerful for me,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell is also an advisor to the Office of Health Equity within the Pennsylvania Department of Health, which allows her to expand her research in different ways.

“I’ll be able to look at biology, environment, as well as social determinants of health disparities,” she said.

The Biology Department hosted a farewell party for Mitchell this past Wednesday.

“She was literally a star for the department,” James Dearworth, head of the biology department, said of Mitchell.

Mitchell hopes she has made a difference in the Lafayette community during her time here.

“I believe that wherever you go in life, you should leave a place better than when you arrived,” Mitchell said. “That is my sincere hope … for my time at Lafayette – that I made it better in some ways because it definitely has made me better.”

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Selma O'Malley
Selma O'Malley, News Editor
Waiting for someone to write a sitcom about a college newspaper.

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