Janeala Morsby (Ph.D. ’23) has been selected to receive a 2023 Governor-General’s Achievement Award (GGAA). This award, one of the most prestigious given by the Jamaican government, recognizes exceptional Jamaicans who have demonstrated excellence in both professional endeavors and service to the community. Janeala was chosen from a pool of 700 nominees, which was a record-breaking number of nominations.
Janeala’s pursuit of service to others began early in life, starting with her role as a prefect at Port Antonio Primary School. She continued her school service as head girl at Titchfield High School, where she initiated several programs including exam practice classes and one-on-one mentoring. Janeala then moved to the US to attend Clafin University, where she served as president of the public health organization, as parliamentarian of the student government, and as a student leader of Passport to College, a program that aids international students in applying to US universities.
At Notre Dame, Morsby worked in the laboratory of Bradley Smith, Emil T. Hofman Professor of Science, completing her dissertation entitled “Enzyme Responsive Molecular Probes for Biomedical Optical Diagnostics and Imaging.” Her research focused on the use of near infrared dyes for biomedical imaging. One important application of her work is the identification of oxygenation levels in cancerous tumors. While highly oxygenated tumors frequently respond favorably to chemotherapy, tumors with low oxygenation levels may not respond or may actual increase in size with chemotherapy. Janeala’s work developed new dye compounds and diagnostic techniques that can identify the oxygenation levels in tumors so that the most appropriate treatment course can be followed.
Janeala will begin her next career phase as a postdoctoral fellow at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in the Molecular Oncology department where her research will center on pediatric osteosarcoma.