Realizing Futures

Behind the Science Q & A with Dr. Jenna Sopfe

Funding Lifesaving Research with Dr. Jenna Sopfe

We’d like you to meet Dr. Jenna Sopfe, Emerging Research Grant recipient from the University of Colorado, Denver. These types of grants encourage and cultivate the best and brightest researchers of the future and allow researchers to pursue exciting research ideas.  One area of concern is that childhood cancer survivors (CCS) experience sexual dysfunction (SD). Dr. Sopfe’s research laboratory is working to improve screening and detection of SD, so they can better treat this important and common concern in AYA CCS. Further, by describing how to better recognize this problem, this study will also provide the background for future research to understand why this problem is occurring and how to best treat it. Ultimately, Dr. Sopfe expects that this research will lead to improved quality of life for CCS

The Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation is looking forward to the new hope offered by the work of Dr. Sopfe.

What interested you in studying quality of life and survivorship?

Thanks to incredible advances in research, more and more kids are surviving cancer. However, treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can cause harm to our patients that affect their long-term health and quality of life. Research is necessary to help to understand these risks, prevent them when we can, and care for patients who experience them. My hope is that we can reduce these long-term effects of cancer and its treatment so our patients can live happier, healthier, and fuller lives, long-term.

Share your thoughts on why you think it’s important to fund pediatric cancer research.

As I’ve mentioned, medical advances have improved the survival rates for pediatric cancer. However, there are still many cancers that are difficult, or even impossible to treat. We need to continue to research cures for these less-understood cancers. Beyond this, research to find better and safer cures, both immediately and in long-term survival, is critical. I hope that as we develop new treatments, not only will even more patients survive, but they will survive with less long-term side effects from their treatment.

What is your proudest accomplishment so far in regards to your research?

Obtaining my Master of Science in Clinical Research at the University of Colorado is my most proud research accomplishment. While this feat isn’t directly “my research”, it represents my dedication to pediatric cancer research because through it, I spent significant time and energy gaining critical research knowledge and skills. The training I received through this degree will allow me to be a successful researcher.

How has the support from PCRF allowed your research to be successful?

As a young investigator, support from PCRF has been critical to allowing me the funds to both pay for research materials and staff and secure protected research time in my schedule. The ultimate goal for most researchers with regard to funding is to receive a large, multi-year grant to fund their research and time, these types of grants are not possible without evidence of prior successful research. Support from PCRF will allow me to obtain preliminary research findings and develop my skills as a researcher so that I can be competitive for one of these larger, multi-year grants to fund a larger project.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

In my free time, I’m a stereotypical (transplanted) Coloradan. I love to get to the mountains to ski, hike, and camp. I also have a 10-year-old lab mix who manages to keep up with me – in the city we love to go for runs. Outside of Colorado, I love to travel and particularly enjoy traveling for adventure (such as hiking to Machu Picchu and exploring Petra) and to sample the local cuisine. Back at home, I also enjoy singing in a choir and attending musical theater.

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When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a single second your whole life could change. – Annette Funicello