A varsity football player and a double major, Jake Friske was a busy college student. He credits his busy schedule to helping him identify his path in life. He worked in a lab part-time with a St. Jude fellowship and one day a complicated experiment took longer than expected. He had football practice but chose to stay in the lab to keep from losing all his work. It was in that moment he learned who he was as a scientist and what his true passions were.
Friske earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2021 from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He was selected for the St. Jude Summer Plus Fellowship Program where he worked full-time for two summers. He worked in the lab of Charles G. Mullighan, MBBS, MSc, MD, in the Department of Pathology. In that lab, his main mentor was staff scientist Ilaria Iacobucci, PhD. His first project in the lab was creating genetically engineered mice models of acute erythroid leukemia for modeling and targeting purposes. After a year in the lab, he started a second project using a genome-wide knockout screen to identify genetic dependencies in acute erythroid leukemia. Lastly, he assisted a visiting scientist with identifying a novel genetic fusion in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He gained valuable insights on what life is like in a full-time clinical setting and shadowed some of the top physician-scientists at St. Jude as they made their rounds through the outpatient clinic and the inpatient beds. Being a part of this lab showed him what it takes to be a part of a high-impact lab in the world of academic medicine.
“The longer I have worked at St. Jude, the more I have learned this is the best place for me to accomplish my career goals,” he says. “Not only is the hospital a premier research institution, but the people who work here really make this place special.”
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida