FEATURE | Posted May 13, 2015

Conquer Cancer Foundation selects UC Davis med student for award

Grant will play key role in expanding medical training

Angel Moran and Dr. Megan Daly © UC Regents
Angel Morán with radiation oncologist Megan Daly.

When he was a teenager growing up in Watsonville, Calif., picking berries in the summer with his family, Angel Morán was simply helping to supplement his family’s income, unaware that he was exposing himself to cancer risks in the process.

“We worked under the beating sun and never applied sunscreen because we didn’t know any better,” Morán said. “We didn’t know anything about the safe handling of pesticides, either. We just assumed that if we weren’t being sprayed directly, we weren’t exposed.”

After surmounting several challenges, including financial hardships, Morán today is a second-year medical student at UC Davis, and was selected by the Conquer Cancer Foundation (CFF) for the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Medial Student Rotation for Underrepresented Populations, an award designed to facilitate the recruitment and retention of individuals from populations underrepresented in medicine to careers focusing on fighting cancer.

On a mission to improve cancer education

Speaking of his work as a teen in the berry fields, Morán said, “Fortunately, I went on to find another job, but my father, uncles and aunts and many friends remained in the fields. This kind of limited knowledge about cancer and preventative care remains a problem in my community to this day.”

In addition to his medical training, Morán is passionate about addressing health disparities in his Latino community. An aspiring radiation oncologist, he plans to not only treat cancer through radiotherapy, but contribute to the fight against the disease as a community educator. He currently is doing his part to improve health care services for the area’s Spanish-speaking patients as a volunteer interpreter in rural clinics, and works with administrators to provide culturally tailored services at the community health clinics run by UC Davis medical students.

The CFF will award Morán $5,000 to cover an eight-week clinical research rotation in radiation oncology, during which he will be working with UC Davis radiation oncologist Megan Daly, participating in clinical research and lectures for residents. The award also will cover $1,500 in travel expenses for the ASCO annual meeting.

A passion for serving

Morán says the grant will play a key role in expanding his medical training by helping him transition from molecular research to the clinical setting.

“I feel very privileged to be chosen for this award,” he said. “It not only extends my opportunity to continue doing research in radiation oncology, but I’ll also get to interact with Dr. Daly’s patients, and I’m very excited about that.”

The Conquer Cancer Foundation was created by ASCO cancer physicians to seek dramatic advances in the prevention, treatment and cures of all types of cancer. The foundation works to conquer the disease by funding breakthrough research and sharing cutting-edge knowledge with patients and physicians worldwide, as well as by improving the quality of and access to care and enhancing the quality of life for all who are touched by the disease.