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CRCHD Grantee Gregory Carey Receives Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Award for his Commitment to Helping Underrepresented Students

Gregory Carey, Ph.D.
Gregory Carey, Ph.D.

CRCHD grantee, Gregory B. Carey, Ph.D., was honored last month with the Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Award for his mentoring and outreach efforts at the University of Maryland's (UMD's) annual event to commemorate Dr. King and Black History Month.

Jay Perman, M.D., President UMD; Greg Carey, Ph.D.; and E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Dean of the School of Medicine.
(Jay Perman, M.D., President UMD; Greg Carey, Ph.D.; and E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Dean of the School of Medicine.)

What brings successful minority scientists into the fold is mentorship, says Carey, Director of Student Summer Research and Community Outreach in the Office of Student Research at UMD's School of Medicine (SOM) in Baltimore, MD. Carey, 46, owes much of his success to the men and women who mentored and convinced him to pursue science.

One such mentor was Virginia Commonwealth University/Medical College of Virginia Professor and Biochemist, Dr. Joseph P. Liberti, whom Carey met in the late 1980s. At the time, Carey was training along a track to become a lab technician. Liberti, recognizing Carey's potential and passion for science, encouraged him to believe that he could exceed his own expectations against all odds and aspire to the expectations of his trusted mentor. He convinced Carey to go to graduate school to obtain his doctorate and become a working scientist. Liberti also taught him to "publish, publish, publish," and to generate enthusiasm about his best science. It turns out Liberti mentored Carey in more than just academic ways. Also a professional musician, he nurtured Carey's love of music. Carey now plays, rhythm, lead, and bass guitar in the music ministry.

Today, Carey takes the same enthusiasm that Liberti gave him to teach science to Baltimore inner city school children. Through CristataCares, a not-for-profit organization he co-founded, Carey helps support education and life-skill building activities for students and the Baltimore community. His mentorship programs start at grade school and advance all the way through graduate school. Carey finds that using humor can often help to get them through the rough tasks at hand.

At UMDSOM, Carey oversees medical student research activities, including summer and year-off research activities. He is also responsible for recruitment and advising of high school and undergraduate students, as well as health professionals, for SOM's summer research programs.

As part of his mentoring, outreach, and teaching roles at UMDSOM, Carey is engaged in constructing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) pipeline of educational opportunities for students at all levels, from elementary school to post-doctoral fellows, as well as for visiting scientists. He finds time to also serve on the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Association of Immunologists, which promotes advocacy and mentorship to increase scientific workforce diversity and career success.

At UMDSIM, Carey holds an Assistant Professorship in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, teaching both basic and special topics in immunology and oncology. He holds additional appointments at the Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases and is a member of the UMD Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, an NCI-designated Cancer Center.

Carey attributes success in his professional career to his trusted mentor, Dr. David W. Scott at UMD, who taught him grantsmanship and encouraged him to strive for independence. In fact, it was through Scott, that he came into the embrace of the NCI/CRCHD Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE). Carey was one of the early participants in the CURE program, a unique training and career development initiative that focuses on building a diverse cadre of investigators engaged in cancer and cancer health disparities research.

NCI's Dr. Anil Wali, who oversees the administration of Carey's grants for CRCHD, described him as "a highly accomplished scientist, passionately committed to helping minority students and postdoctoral fellows at the university reach their goals."

Carey's lab at UMDSOM explores the mechanism of targeted killing of cancer cells, primarily B-cell lymphomas, via death receptors and chemotherapeutic agents. He is examining the notion that controlled oxidation can promote the selective targeting and destruction of critical growth and survival proteins.

Under an NCI K01 grant he received, he investigated the roles of IgM and IgD receptors in life and death decisions in lymphomas. He went on to earn an NCI K22 grant to explore selective targeting of the growth and survival proteins, MEK and Akt, in B-cell lymphomas via death receptors and a natural anti-cancer agent. While supported on these grants, he authored/co-authored 11 research articles.

Currently, Carey is principal investigator on an NCI UH2 award, examining previously unknown roles of the antioxidant enzyme, SOD1, in lymphoma metabolism, autophagy, and the economy of reactive oxygen species. His collaborations are now extending to breast and other cancers. He hopes that his research will ultimately lead to better targeted, more potent, and less toxic therapies for treatment of cancer.

Carey received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1995 from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.

Updated: 01/10/14