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Project Investigator Biography

Mary O'Connell, Ph.D. Mary O'Connell, Ph.D.

New Mexico State University (NMSU) at Las Cruces
New Mexico State University, Dept. of Agronomy and Horticulture,
Gerald Thomas Hall- Rm 179,
MSC 3Q/PO Box 30001,
Las Cruces, NM 88003
phone: (575) 646-5172
fax: (575) 646-6041

Dr. Mary O’Connell is a full professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at NMSU, as well as the director of the Medicinal plants of the Southwest Project. For the past two decades, Dr. O’Connell has worked as a mentor for the NIH Minority Access to Research Careers. In addition, she is a mentor for the NIH Minority Biomedical Research Support/RISE program, NIH Bridges to Native Americans Program, and director of the NIH RISE Medicinal Plants of the Southwest. She is also director of the NCI Building Minority Research Capacity Project: NMSU & FHCRC.

Dr. O’Connell has been associated with the New Mexico State University – Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center MICCP collaboration since its inception in 2002, and became the program director of the original U56 in 2003. Dr. Beti Thompson has been the program director continuously for the FHCRC part. She and Dr. Thompson are program directors of the U54 collaboration between NMSU and FHCRC (2007 - 2012). In addition to the administrative role she plays on the U54, Dr. O’Connell also participates in a full program for undergraduate training and a pilot program for graduate student training. She and Dr. Julian Simon (FHCRC) are the co-PIs on a pilot research project that has identified several novel anti-cancer compounds in plants native to the American Southwest. This research project is working to develop new chemotherapies for breast cancer, a cancer type that has reduced survival rates for African-American women and Hispanic women.

Dr. O’Connell graduated from the College of Mt. St.Vincent with her B.S. in Biology and Chemistry. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry at Cornell University in 1980. She has been on the faculty at New Mexico State University since 1985. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. O’Connell was Director of the NIH sponsored Minority High School Student Program at New Mexico State University (NMSU), as well as the Outreach Coordinator for the National Biotechnology Information Facility. She has also served as a panel member for the NIH, NIGMS, and the MBRS sub-committee.

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Other Project Investigator
Beti Thompson, Ph.D.
Updated: 04/30/12