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NACME President and CEO Establishes Memorial Scholarship in Honor of His Parents

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NACME President and CEO Establishes Memorial Scholarship
in Honor of His Parents

First Scholarship Recipient Presented with $5,000 During NACME’s 40th Anniversary Celebration

White Plains. N.Y. — Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) presented the first recipient of The Pressley and Mauise Vinson McPhail/NACME Scholarship with a check for $5,000 during the NACME 40th Anniversary Awards Dinner and Celebration at the Waldorf Astoria, New York City, on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

The scholarship, which was established earlier this year, was awarded to Khadidiatou (Khady) Guiro, a biomedical engineering doctoral candidate from Rutgers University School of Medicine and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and an Alfred P. Sloan Minority Ph.D. fellow. Guiro’s broad research goal is to develop successful therapeutic strategies for a range of diseases by closing the gap between engineering and molecular biology. She is currently studying breast cancer dormancy, a primary factor in disease recurrence, by using tissue engineering to closely observe the mechanisms of cell dormancy following cancer treatments.

“Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in females worldwide, and the second main cause of female mortality and morbidity in the western world. Recurrences after decades of remission are a particular problem,” she says.

"Khady is addressing an important issue in breast cancer research where we are trying to understand how and why cancer cells remain dormant in the body, even after aggressive chemotherapy treatment. These dormant cells also appear to reside in close proximity to bone tissue so she is developing a model to study breast cancer cell interaction with this tissue," said Dr. Treena Livingston Arinzeh, Director of the Graduate Program of the Biomedical Engineering Department at NJIT, and Guiro’s advisor.

Guiro, who moved to the United States as a teenager, was born and raised in Dakar, Senegal, where she recounts “watching my community being affected by health issues such as malnutrition, infectious diseases, and cancer, but mainly a lack of knowledge regarding preventive measures and the absence of health research institutions.” She adds, “I grew up with a desire to seek an education that would lead me to a career in improving the quality of health of others, particularly those in my community. Biomedical engineering seemed like a perfect field to study because it could lead to career opportunities, like conducting cutting-edge research, designing medical devices, developing pharmaceuticals to treat diseases, and developing artificial organs and tissues.”

"Cancer and cardiovascular disease robbed me of my parents, my friends, my truth tellers. My wife, daughter, and I created The Pressley and Mauise Vinson McPhail/NACME Scholarship in Biomedical Engineering to honor the memory of my parents by encouraging innovations in bionanotechnology; medical imaging; cellular, tissue, and genetic engineering; and other areas of biomedical engineering that have the greatest potential to end the scourge of these two insidious diseases,” said Dr. McPhail.

“NACME does a brilliant job not only in helping minority students to become engineers, but excel in their careers. This is a vital service for our country. It ensures we have an outstanding cadre of minority engineers who bring a much-needed diversity of experiences and ideas to the workplace, while also assisting individuals who are as determined as NACME to make a difference in every important area of American life, from cutting-edge industry, to infrastructure, to public health,” said NJIT President Dr. Joel Bloom. “By honoring Khady Guiro with a scholarship named for his parents, Dr. McPhail is providing wonderful support and encouragement to someone we know is resolved to make her mark by tackling diseases with creative engineering. We could not be more proud of her or more grateful to Dr. McPhail for recognizing and rewarding her talent.”


Photo Credit: Ed Eckstein Photography
Pictured (L-R): Khadidiatou (Khady) Guiro; Dr. Irving Pressley McPhail; Dr. Christine McPhail.