Benjamin Wilander’s interest in biomedical science began with his introduction to genetics in his high school AP biology class. Since then, he has noticed the prevalence of suffering that is caused by disease. He hopes to combat these issues through a better understanding of their development and the underlying mechanisms.
Wilander earned his bachelor’s degree in biology in 2018 from Bemidji State University, located in Minnesota. His research there focused on understanding translational modifications that regulate the function of TCL, a Rho family GTPase involved in cytoskeletal signaling pathways. Until 2020, Wilander worked in the lab of Ryan Potts, PhD, Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, where he was involved in investigating the transcriptional regulation of the large MAGE protein family in cancer and how these normally tissue-restricted genes are expressed during tumorigenesis. He used various approaches, including cell biology, functional genomics and computational biology.
Wilander currently works in the lab of Maureen A. McGargill, PhD, Department of Immunology. His research focuses on the role of DRAK2 in T cell synapse formation, migration and cytoskeletal functions. He earned his master's degree from the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in May 2021.
“The resources at St. Jude are second to none,” he says. “I think the connection to the hospital and the wide range of research topics provide an invaluable set of opportunities for development as a scientist.”
Hometown: Bemidji, Minnesota
Dissertation: Investigating the Novel Role of DRAK2 in T Cell Migration and Synapse Formation
Honors and Awards
- 2019 St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences First Year Student of the Year Award
Florke Gee RR, Chen H, Lee AK, Daly CA, Wilander BA, Fon Tacer K, Potts PR. Emerging Roles of the MAGE protein family in stress response pathways. J Biol Chem Nov 20 2020;295(47):16121-16155. doi: 10.1074/jbc.REV120.008029