With a passion for research and helping people, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Craig Cady ’76 and MS ’87 is making an impact with his stem cell research.
Cady is an associate professor of biology at Bradley University where he serves as the director of the Stem Cell Research Laboratory, managing a team of students who research ways to treat ovarian and pancreatic cancer, heart disease and parathyroid issues.
His success in the field of stem cell research has led Cady to be honored with a 2016 UW Oshkosh Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award. Cady and nine other award winners will be recognized during Homecoming Weekend at the Alumni Awards Celebration on Friday, Oct. 20.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UW Oshkosh and a doctorate in physiological sciences from the University of Arizona.
In his lab at Bradley, Cady uses iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells, which are genetically reprogrammed stem cells from adults. The cells can be taken from the patient, altered and re-inserted into the patient.
“We genetically engineer stem cells to deliver an enzyme to the tumor, and then we inject a pro-drug, which turns into a chemotherapy drug right where the tumor is located. It’s a new approach and another weapon for physicians to fight cancer with,” Cady said.
Cady provides hands-on research opportunities to high school and undergraduate students through his lab.
“For me, it’s a mission to really expose our undergraduates to cutting-edge research so they can go on and become leaders and innovators in the world and make a difference,” Cady said.
“I look back at the experience I got at UW Oshkosh and how it impacted me and helped me to go far in my career, and I would like to pass that on to my students.”
In addition to working at Bradley University, Cady also is an adjunct professor in the biomedical and therapeutic science department at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
Cady completed a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral research fellowship at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where he studied changes in the brain following seizures in epileptic patients and neurophysiological changes in the aging brain.
One of the highlights of Cady’s career was his involvement in the world’s first transplant of a nanofiber trachea lined with stem cells. The trachea was transplanted into a 3-year-old girl who was born without a trachea.
Outside the lab, Cady enjoys tennis, dog training and hiking.