Priyanka Senthil ’25 was doing research on lung cancer for a thoracic surgeon for Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in 2021 when she realized that more lung cancer screenings meant earlier detection and better outcomes. This set her on a path of advocacy that complements her ongoing medical research.
She is now the executive director of the American Lung Cancer Screening Initiative (ALCSI) and president of the Rice chapter, leading efforts to raise awareness of and access to lung cancer screening, both locally in Houston and across the nation.
“In addition to working on research, it's meaningful to me to be able to work on advocacy, too, with patients, doctors, and experts in the field. Being able to integrate my research on lung cancer screening with efforts to increase awareness of and access to the screening has helped me engage with those directly affected by lung cancer,” says Priyanka, a health sciences major.
In the two years since Priyanka first joined ALCSI, they’ve delivered approximately 250 presentations about the importance of lung cancer screenings to more than 10,000 people. She’s personally worked with U.S. senators, members of congress and mayors, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. This fall, Priyanka was part of ALCSI’s efforts that led to the Senate unanimously passing a resolution designating November as National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. She also launched a new podcast series last summer that features stories from lung cancer survivors, caregivers, thoracic surgeons, and lung cancer researchers to collectively share the experiences of patients and experts in the field.
Priyanka knew she wanted to come to Rice because of the strong community she witnessed when she visited campus and talked to students. Her financial aid package made choosing Rice possible.
“Having financial support means I can pursue opportunities I’m really passionate about, and it takes away a lot of stress,” Priyanka says. “I’m only halfway through my time at Rice, and already the opportunities I’ve had have been so formative and really shaped my interests and what I hope to do.”
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