When Keven Stonewall was in the fifth grade, he received four microscopes for Christmas from his parents. They did not realize then that his interest in biology would eventually lead him to discover a major breakthrough in the cure for colon cancer.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer among African American men and women, according to The Cancer Prevention Foundation. African Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer more than any other ethnic group. They also have the highest death rates from the disease. The disease hit close to home with Keven during his freshman year at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences when one of his close friends had an uncle who died from colon cancer. He felt that he really needed to do something about it!
It was during his last year of high school working at a Rush University lab that Kevin found a critical age-related drawback in an experimental vaccine aimed at preventing colon cancer in mice. The experiment helped scientists realize that they needed a special vaccine for older subjects, according to his lab director at Rush University, Carl Ruby.
Keven’s research earned him numerous awards, and he was a finalist for the Intel International Science and Engineer Fair in 2013. The results of his research were even presented at the national meeting for the Society for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer in Washington, D.C., and credit was given to Keven for his lead in the research.
Keven is now a sophomore and biomedical engineering major at the University of Wisconsin Madison where he continues his colon cancer research. He is passionate about finding a cure. He recently stated, “I am very passionate about doing colon cancer research,” Keven said. “If it works on humans, I would be overwhelmed.”
So what’s next?
With plans to become an oncologist and earn both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, Keven is a very focused student, earning dean’s list recognition both semesters of his freshman year. He is also an ambassador to students interested in pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors at the university.
He comments, “I don’t want to only focus on colon cancer. I have a bigger picture in mind. I want to cure cancer, and the more informed I am, the better physician I’ll be.”
Watch Keven’s interview below with Black Enterprise: