(Originally published on LinkedIn)
Dr. Nicola Mason is making a difference. A veterinarian and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, she is developing innovative treatments for dogs with cancer therapies that may one day help children with the disease.
Her approach training the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells has shown promise in treating osteosarcoma, a highly aggressive bone cancer that affects up to 50,000 dogs a year. Dr. Mason hopes that her progress will not only heal her canine patients but also translate into treatments for the approximately 800 children a year who develop osteosarcoma. The disease is nearly identical in dogs and children in how it behaves, spreads, and responds to certain chemotherapies.
“I feel very privileged to do what I do,” says Dr. Mason. Her inspiring work is featured in the video “Dog Years,” which also tells the story of Dexter, a dog whose right hind leg had to be amputated after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma five years ago. Thanks to the novel treatments he’s had in Dr. Mason’s lab, Dexter has far exceeded the one-year survival rate typical of dogs who get only the standard treatment of amputation and chemotherapy. “It’s breakthrough stuff that we’re doing here,” says Allie Lockhart, a research assistant in Dr. Mason’s lab.
Dr. Mason is a great example of the kinds of amazing people TIAA serves, who work at academic, research, cultural, medical, government, and nonprofit institutions. In 2018, we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of our founding by sharing some of their stories:
- Walter Meyer and Jennifer Bolstad, an urban designer and landscape architect whose focus on sustainable resilient design has strengthened hurricane-ravaged coastal communities.
- Nina Maung-Gaona, who helped Stony Brook University increase the number of minority doctoral students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields by 300 percent.
- Katie Stoudemire, who founded a program that brings hands-on science and nature activities to hospitalized children and teens in North Carolina.
- Carina Beck, who created a program at Montana State University that has boosted financial literacy and reduced student loan debt.
- Toms Morales, who as president of California State University, San Bernardino, is committed to helping his primarily first-generation, low-income student population graduate and succeed in life.
TIAA’s customers spend their days making a difference by teaching, inspiring, curing, nurturing, and serving. Our mission is to help them achieve their financial goals so that they have the confidence and freedom to focus on doing what they do best. So as we mark our centennial, we celebrate our customers the people who are building a better future for us all.