St Jude researcher has coast connection

By Karen Abernathy – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – Growing up in D'Iberville, Racquel Collins-Underwood saw a St Jude telethon on TV, and knew immediately what she wanted to be when she grew up.

"I've wanted to work at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis since I was twelve years old," Racquel remembered. "I wrote an essay at D'Iberville Middle School about what I wanted to do.  So everything I've done up to this point has been to get me to here."

Racquel is excited to be a part of the research team at St Jude. Since the hospital opened in 1962, the overall cancer survival rate has jumped from 20 percent to 80 percent. And for some forms of childhood leukemia, it's even higher, at 94 percent.

"In a matter of decades, we've made so much progress."

Racquel works in the genomics lab at St Jude in Memphis, searching for clues in young patients' DNA samples, to help them fight Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL.

"The survival rate for ALL is actually pretty good, about 80 percent. But about a quarter subsequently relapse, fail their therapy and die.  We're working to improve and extend the lives of these young patients."

Improvements have been tremendous since the hospital opened in the sixties, with progress being made every day.  Racquel is optimistic that the research going on now will save even more lives in the future.

If you'd like to contribute to that cause and possibly win a house in the process, tickets for the St. Jude Dream Home are still on sale.  The drawing for the house is November 14th. The tickets are $100, and the home you could win is valued at more than $560,000.

The home is located in the The Village at Tradition. You can see it for yourself 9am-5pm on Saturdays and Noon-5pm on Sundays now through November 7th. Click here for more information about the home and how you can buy tickets.

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