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Potsdam man, headed to Harvard Med School, named Frederica Clarkson Award winner

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POTSDAM - Graduating senior Marty LaFleur of Potsdam received the Frederica Clarkson Award during Clarkson University’s 120th commencement ceremony.

He was selected for the $1,000 award by a vote of the full university faculty based on his scholarship and promise of outstanding achievement.

The award was established in 1921 as a bequest in the will of Frederica Clarkson, sister of Thomas S. Clarkson, for whom the University is named. This award and the Levinus Clarkson Award are traditionally given to the two top students in the graduating class.

LaFleur, a member of Clarkson’s Honors Program, received a bachelor of science degree in biomolecular science. A graduate of the Clarkson School Program, LaFleur will graduate with a 4.00 GPA, and was a recipient of the George L. Jones Jr. Scholarship in his junior year. LaFleur aspires to conduct medical research and gained valuable experience volunteering and shadowing at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

LaFleur has conducted research since the summer following his freshman year in the Clarkson School. He started in Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Professor Costel Darie’s laboratory identifying potential serum biomarkers for prostate cancer using 2D SDS-PAGE and mass spectrometric analysis. The following year, LaFleur began a project in Darie’s laboratory examining the effect of tumor differentiation factor peptide on MCF7 breast cancer cells. LaFleur coauthored a peer-reviewed book chapter on proteomic techniques for the investigation of protein-protein interactions.

These early research experiences lead to LaFleur’s acceptance to a summer fellowship at the Gerstner Sloan-Kettering Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in New York City. While there, LaFleur worked for Professor of Molecular Biology Andrew Koff examining how the tumor suppressor TRIM3 was regulated by phosphorylation in glioblastoma.

For his honors thesis, LaFleur worked with Chemistry and Biomolecular Science Senior University Professor Richard Partch. This research involved the use of gold nanoparticles as a carrier of a chemotherapeutic and in phototherapy allowing for a two-pronged attack on cancerous cells. The idea is that nanoparticles allow drug-resistant cells to be killed helping to prevent cancer relapse. As a junior, LaFleur received national recognition when he was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship to support this project and his academic pursuits.

LaFleur completed the KUMON mathematics program, coached youth soccer, and tutored local students in mathematics. He also participated in the Big Brother Big Sister Program as a freshman and later served as a tutor for biology, chemistry, calculus, and organic chemistry.

Following commencement, LaFleur will attend Harvard Medical School for a Ph.D. in immunology. He plans to investigate the manipulation of the immune response to target tumors and would like to continue this research as a university professor.

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