Research projects

Exercise science major uses research projects to help mom recover from cancer

Connecting what you learn in the classroom to the world around you should be every student’s goal. For Gracie Moree, an exercise scientist at Wingate, the opportunity to do research that could address an immediate need within her family was both rewarding and inspiring.

Her mother, an ER nurse who had sparked her interest in a healthcare career, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, when Moree was in her second grade.

“I was following the principles of resistance training and we had to do a project,” says Moree. “My mom was really weak after her cancer treatments, so I talked to my teacher, Dr. [Bill] Steffen, about creating an exercise program for my mom.

The program she created not only helped her mother regain her strength and return to work, but it sparked more curiosity in Moree, who decided to take it to the next level with a specialized project in the prescription course. Exercises for Special Populations by Dr. Jenny Bond.

The result was a 20-page article on whether physical activity can potentially reduce the risk of developing cancer and the benefits of exercise after a cancer diagnosis.

Moree looked at the causes of the four most common types of cancer (prostate, breast, lung, and colorectal) and found that many of them, including being overweight, hormonal imbalances, type 2 diabetes, and inactivity physical, could be treated with exercise. She has also studied DNA methylation and its relationship to cancer as well as the physiological and psychological benefits of exercise for cancer survivors.

As part of her research poster presentation, she expanded the exercise program she had originally created for her mother, adding aerobics and stretching/flexibility training to resistance. She presented her findings in March at the Carolinas Exercise Science and Kinesiology Research Symposium and again last month at the Wellspring Symposium in Wingate, where her parents came out to show their support.

“Mom is doing great, back to work and continuing to exercise,” Moree says.

The suburban homeschooler from Burnsville in Anson County is also doing very well. She will take the debut stage next week as one of two dozen graduate students summa cum laude (with highest honors). And she has already been accepted into the graduate school at Winston Salem State University to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy.

The start of undergraduate studies begins at 9 a.m. on May 17. The start of graduate studies is set for May 18 at 9 a.m. Weather permitting, both will take place on Wingate’s Academic Quad.