MCP Graduate Student Derek Dang Receives Excellence in Service Award

By Lynn McCain | June 30 2023

Derek_Dang-20180808.jpgThe Department of Pathology is pleased to announce that Molecular and Cellular Pathology (MCP) Graduate Student Derek Dang has been awarded the 2023 Phyllis M. Wise Biomedical Sciences Graduate Student Award for Excellence in Service.  Previously known as the U of M Rackham Graduate School's OGPS Student Awards, the award was renamed this year in recognition of Dr. Phyllis Wise for her outstanding accomplishments throughout her distinguished career and her remarkable act of generosity. This award is granted to a graduate student who exhibits a passionate commitment to service in their communities, nationally or internationally.

As indicated by Dr. Jeff Rual, Co-Director of the MCP Graduate Program, "Dang is very passionate about serving his community. He is a dedicated coach who led his Slauson Middle School students for four years to attend the prestigious National Science Olympiad competition. As an enthusiastic leader of the MCP Student Council, Derek encouraged initiatives promoting DEI in the Department of Pathology. He is a committed and loyal advocate, as exemplified by the more than $211,000 in funding support he helped secure for Fathers and Sons Together (FAST), a youth and family development program with which he has been involved for the last seven years that focuses on improving educational and health outcomes among Black youth in his hometown of Seattle. Derek is a caring benefactor, as shown by his service as a coordinator of a summer science program organized by the Catholic Community Services aimed towards low-income and migrant youth in diverse and economically challenged communities. His record speaks volumes in regard to his accomplishments in giving back to the community and his excellence in service."

Dang's dissertation research is focused on defining the role of EZHIP in pediatric posterior fossa ependymoma metabolism under the mentorship of Dr. Sriram Venneti. He has proven himself to not only be an exemplary citizen, but an outstanding graduate student as demonstrated by his excellent academic record, with six publications including a co-first-author publication in Science Translational Medicine. Dang is also the recipient of the prestigious National Institutes of Health's Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Predoctoral Fellowship (F31). Dang's immediate goals are to publish his second first-author publication by the end of the year which will provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of pediatric brain tumors, specifically Group 3 Medulloblastomas.  His long-term goal is to find a career where he can integrate his career-long interests in biomedical research and public service.

"I am really grateful to have received this award!" Dang expressed. "I want to thank everyone that took the time to support and review my application.  I also want to thank OGPS for establishing the award and recognizing the efforts of PIBS students.  Every nominee had an extensive record of public service which speaks volumes about the generosity of students in our community.  While my efforts were recognized by this award, I want to emphasize that many other PhD students in Pathology are also leading service organizations that are performing outstanding work.  These include Developing Future Biologists and Michigan DNA Day.  I will be donating a portion of the award to these causes, and I hope that the Pathology community will join me in supporting them with our time/finances."

Please join us in congratulating Dang on his award.