The Rider

August 5, 2010

Gray’s Anatomy of a Gene

Filed under: Rider Profiles, The James — The Blog @ 6:01 AM

One of the goals of the Pelotonia Undergraduate Fellowships is to steer, push and prod the best and brightest scientific minds toward cancer research.

It didn’t take much pushing and prodding in the case of Kelsey Gray, an OSU undergraduate – and one of the Pelotonia Undergraduate Fellowship recipients. Kelsey is already well on her way toward emulating the cancer-fighting career of her mentor, Amanda Toland, a professor in the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology & Medical Genetics.

“Yes, I definitely hope to contribute in this area,” Kelsey said. “We have all this knowledge, but we still have so much more to learn.”

Kelsey’s Pelotonia project will help expand this knowledge. It is titled Role of DCPS in Squamous Cell Carcinoma. What this means is, she will look at one specific gene – the DCPS gene – and try and determine if the presence of this gene is a skin-cancer deterrent.

“If I’m able to establish this gene does play a role. That would lead to further studies of the gene,” Kelsey said.

Science was always a priority for Kelsey, who grew up in Canton.

“My mom is a nurse and my dad is a freshwater biologist, so I’ve been around it and in high school I realized I really liked it, especially genetics.”

Kelsey spends a lot of time in the lab

When it came time to select a college, OSU had exactly what Kelsey was looking for in its biomedical science medical major. Once she arrived at OSU, Kelsey began working for Amanda Toland, whose specialty is “identifying combinations of susceptibility genes that work together to influence an individual’s risk of developing cancer,” according to her bio.

This is exactly what Kelsey’s Pelotonia project hopes to accomplish – and what she does when she works in Amanda’s lab.

“She is very good at explaining things and very willing to take the time that’s necessary to make sure I understand what I’m doing and help me see the big picture,” Kelsey said of her mentor. “She spends so much time in the lab – and is always available.”

Kelsey is considering a combined medical and PhD program that would enable her to continue to be a research scientist – and treat patients.

“That would allow me to do the research and also see patients who are connected to that research,” she said, adding that while skin-cancer research is her specialty right now, “my mind is open to all the options of cancer research.”

Kelsey found out she was one of the recipients of the $12,000 Pelotonia fellowships in the middle of a lab, which meant she couldn’t exactly jump up and down and celebrate.

“I turned to the rest of the people in my lab an said, ‘would you like to hear some good news?’ And I told them.”

Kelsey said several other students from her major – biomedical science – and related majors, were also awarded fellowships.

“I know some of the others were already involved in cancer research, ”Kelsey said. “But I know some of the others weren’t and this has encouraged them to get into it and that’s definitely good because we need to get everyone together for this cause and work it together.”

10 things about Kelsey …

Favorite ride

A 27-mile ride during gym class

Dream ride


Current Pelotonia bike

A mountain bike

Dream bike

I don’t know

Favorite movie


Favorite band/singer

The Fray

Favorite TV show


Favorite book

The Fountainhead

Favorite athlete

I don’t have one

Favorite post-ride meal

A steak



  1. Hello Kelsey:

    Mom and Dad are very proud of you! Keep up the good work.

    Thank you “Pelotonia” for your wonderful award.

    Thank you “Amanda” for being such a great role model for our daughter.

    Thank you “OSU”. You are perfect for Kelsey.

    Mom & Dad Gray

    Comment by Jeff & Cindy Gray — August 6, 2010 @ 3:35 AM

  2. Dear Mr. and Mrs Grey,

    Thank you so much for taking the time for this wonderful news. I obviously didn’t get to know Kelsey as well as her science teachers and others, but I always sensed a calm resolve towards academics from her that spoke volumes. We look forward to learning more of Kelsey’s accomplishments in the future. I believe she is destined to do profound work, let alone always be a Perry Panther :-).
    Don Gregoire

    Comment by Don Gregoire — August 7, 2010 @ 8:46 AM

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