Outstanding Grad: Aaron Offermann
College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
story by Anne Manning
photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography
published Dec. 14, 2022
Fort Collins native Aaron Offermann always wanted to help people “in the most impactful way.”
So he chose to study microbiology with a focus on human disease, and he works in an investigational pathology laboratory that focuses on cancer biology and therapeutics. He will also graduate with a minor in chemistry. During his first year at CSU, Offermann received a cancer diagnosis and underwent treatment. He is grateful for a “second chance at life.”
After graduation, he will wrap up work on a publication before joining the biotech research industry. Eventually, he’d like to pursue a Ph.D. in pathology, physiology or cancer biology.
in their own words
Q. What’s been the most challenging aspect of your time at CSU?
During my freshman year, I was diagnosed with a Stage 3 cancer and received several rounds of intensive chemotherapy over the summer. I have fortunately been cleared since the summer of 2019, with no further surgery or treatment needed.
The cancer treatment proved difficult. In addition to physical recovery, I experienced “chemo brain,” which caused a lot of cognitive difficulties when trying to jump back into school.
While I was in treatment, I was emailing back and forth with Professor Gerald Callahan, with whom I had taken MIP 101, Introduction to Human Disease, and who was in remission from his own personal battle with cancer. I went straight back into school that fall semester (which wasn’t the best idea, haha).
One of my courses was MIP 315: Human and Animal Pathology. This class was headed by the same Professor Callahan, but I was surprised to see he was no longer teaching the course. I assumed he retired. Unfortunately, I was later informed that his cancer returned and that he passed away before the start of the semester.
Q. You have worked for two years in Dr. Dan Regan’s lab. Tell me about that.
I began working in the Regan Lab in January 2020, where I started out learning about traditional cell culture techniques. He eventually moved me onto my own project. We have mainly focused on osteosarcoma, a primarily childhood bone cancer.
We worked on developing what is called a co-culture model, where we compared the growth differences in bone cancer when it is growing by itself vs. when the cells are combined with resident lung fibroblasts.
We have so far found that there was a significant increase in chemotherapy resistance when the bone cancer cells were growing in combination with these lung fibroblasts. These results will be written up and published by around spring of next year. We are currently applying the same experimental model with canine osteosarcoma.
Q. Who were your favorite CSU mentors or instructors?
Beyond being an inspiring professor, Dr. Regan has proven to be the best mentor and scientist I have ever met. I am also grateful to Eric Palmer, Katie Cronise and Laurel Haines for involving me at such a high level of research and impact.
Other favorite instructors: Traci Kinkel, Gerald Callahan, Medora Huseby, Brendan Podell, Kassy Mies, Alan Schenkel, Aaron Sholders, Erica Suchman and Courtney Jahn.
Q. What’s your advice to other students?
Everyone goes through rough patches, in college and in life. You’re not going to be ready for it, and life will not care. There will always be something to get you down, distract you from your work, keep you up at night, but as long as you keep the end goal in mind and focus on what is within your control, you will make it.
The Class of 2022 represents the very best of Colorado State University, showing courage in the face of adversity in the pursuit of their degrees. Read more stories of some of the outstanding students who are graduating this fall. read more