Cherry Featured in NCI’s Spotlight on Scientists Video Series

By Ashley DeVine, Staff Writer
Studio portrait of James Cherry with a football.

James Cherry attended Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., on a football scholarship as an undergraduate. Although he was originally an economics major, Cherry ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Photo courtesy of Daniel Sone, NCI Office of Communications and Public Liaison.

James Cherry, Ph.D., learned at an early age that education is crucial to success. He credits his mentors, some of whom include his grandmother, Shepherd University professor Burton Lidgerding, Ph.D., David Munroe, Ph.D., Frederick National Lab, and Robert J. Hohman, Ph.D., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for guiding him to the career he has today.

Cherry, scientific program director, Office of Scientific Operations (OSO), NCI at Frederick, is one of the scientists featured in NCI’s Spotlight on Scientists video series. His video is also part of LabTV, a project that profiles scientists under the age of 40 through brief, documentary-style videos.

“My grandmother played a major role; she was a principal in New York City public schools. To her, education was the key to all the success. No one can take education away from you—she told me that all the time,” Cherry said in the video.

The video summarizes some of Cherry’s responsibilities at NCI at Frederick, and his educational journey from football player to biology major and, ultimately, a career in molecular biology.

At NCI at Frederick, Cherry assists in the oversight of the Data Science and Information Technology Program and focuses his efforts on the Advanced Biomedical Computing Center (ABCC) at the Frederick National Lab, which provides bioinformatics, mathematical simulation and modeling, image analysis and visualization, nanoinformatics, and proteomic analysis expertise to researchers at NCI, NIH, and other federal agencies.

Since 2010, Cherry has re-developed the technology development arms of the Cancer Research Technology Program (formerly the Advanced Technology Program), the Laboratory Animal Sciences Program, and the ABCC. The technology development arms were designed to promote collaboration between these programs and NCI investigators in order to develop and enhance novel technologies in areas of biomedical research, including genetics and genomics, protein expression, proteomics, imaging (subcellular, cellular, and whole animal), and nanotechnology.

Cherry also serves as the scientific advisor for the Werner H. Kristen Student Intern Program and for college interns within the OSO-sponsored contractor labs at the Frederick National Lab. He has represented NCI on scientific advisory boards for several higher education institutes in Maryland and for Frederick County Public Schools on programs related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Since 2012, he has been an adjunct professor at Hood College and Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland, teaching biomedical ethics, introduction to biotechnology, and protein biochemistry.

“I always say to my students that the NCI raised me,” he said in the video. “As a mentor, it’s very important that you take a vested interest in the mentee.”