Chris Healy has cancer in his crosshairs

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
UNH graduate Christopher Healy '16

Christopher Healy '16

So much for senioritis. Christopher Healy ’16 didn’t have time to let it creep into his final year at UNH. The biomedical science major in the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) spent 20-30 hours per week in the lab of professor Thomas Foxall learning a set of skills “that pretty much got me my job,” says the Charlestown, Rhode Island, native.  

Chris Healy’s advice to incoming freshmen

Start getting your experience early. Jump on any opportunity you get to build up that experience for your resume, because it’s impossible to do it late in the game.

If you have an opportunity to do research in a lab here at UNH, you hop on that the second you get it. If you come in as a freshman and say to yourself, “I want to do research,” find a department mentor, find out what their research is, approach them and say, “Hey, I want to work in your lab this year if not next year.” Take it for credit. Take it for a class. That’s the best thing you can do — go in and say, “Hey this is what I’ve done." 

Have a portfolio of your work. And have your resume ready to go. All the professors in COLSA love what they do, and they love working with students and getting them where they need to be.

Healy is headed to the Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, where he’ll work in the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Engelman, director of MGH’s Center for Thoracic Oncology and Molecular Therapeutics. The lab develops very specific drugs for very specific types of cancer.

“They’ve had a lot of really cool and groundbreaking things in the lab recently — all things that have been used in the scientific field to move targeted drug discovery forward,” Healy says.

The lab works with biopsy samples from actual MGH cancer patients. “We get to find the best drug for the patient, develop new drugs for the patient and then deliver that information right to the clinic,” Healy explains. “It’s a great way to gain information, a great way to treat patients and a great way to develop drugs.”

Cancer has struck those near and dear to Healy, including a beloved karate instructor of 15 years and a relative he describes as “the toughest lady in the entire world,” so the job means more than just a paycheck.

“It gives you a reason to go into the lab and want to do your best every day,” he says,

Healy says he called on all he has learned at UNH to land the position. “I was able to go in and talk with the doctoral students about what their research was, and I was able to talk specifics. I’m very grateful to all of my professors; they set me right up.”


Learn more about the biomedical science program in the UNH College of Life Sciences and Agriculture.

Tracey Bentley | Communications and Public Affairs