Alumnus works to help cancer patients get reliable diagnosis for treatment
Bradley Campagna, ’11 | Cytogenetic Technologist, Neogenomics Laboratories
By Daniela Marin
In an effort to raise awareness and funds from sparked conversations, the Movember Foundation encourages men from around the world to sprout and sport mustaches for an entire month for men’s health issues.
Biotechnology graduate Bradley Campagna, ’11, is one of many “mo bros” who has begun his hairy journey in the fight against prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health problems. And, though a full-blown mustache might ordinarily cause concerns in a professional work setting, Campagna’s position as a cytogenetic technologist delivering results to cancer patients lands him in a unique position.
Campagna says most of his co-workers at Neogenomics Laboratories in Fort Myers, Fla., participate in cancer-awareness initiatives, making them understanding of his growing facial hair. In honor of breast cancer awareness month in October, Campagna and his co-workers organized a potluck and donated all of the proceeds to breast cancer research.
Not a whole lot of people know the way your body works on a molecular level, and to be able to educate people, even if it’s something small, is a great benefit.
“It’s really relevant to my field of work, so I try to keep up with all initiatives,” he explains. “Most people at work do it [too], so they are very understanding. It’s fun. You just have to stay away from Chuck E. Cheese and places like that so you don’t look like a creep.”
Besides avoiding children, Campagna spends his days in the processing lab at Neogenomics preparing samples for analysis. On other days, he obtains results by analyzing isolated white blood cells from patient samples such as blood or bone marrow.
“I get a much more sense of pride when I do the analysis because, regardless of the result, both a positive or negative result can be great,” he says. “A negative result means the patient is in remission and their treatment is working. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with a positive result because that means the doctor actually found the problem and the patient can now begin treatment.”
In addition to analyzing samples, Campagna particularly enjoys working in his field because of the knowledge he can provide to others.
“Not a whole lot of people know the way your body works on a molecular level, and to be able to educate people, even if it’s something small, is a great benefit,” he says. “[Biotechnology] isn’t something that a lot of people do, and not a lot of people know about it, and that’s what I find very interesting.”
In fact, Campagna was one of only 102 UCF biotechnology undergraduates in the class of 2011.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Campagna worked as a bartender until landing his first career job with Neogenomics, at which point he was able to pursue the additional certifications and licenses required to work in a clinical laboratory.
“Neogenomics has absolutely been a great first job,” he says. “They put me through their own training program where I was able to get the further education experience I needed. The company has grown so much, and I’ve had every opportunity to grow with them. I’m thankful for that every day.”
We Mustache You to Read This Q&A
Q. Favorite UCF professor/class?
A. I can’t say that I had a favorite professor. They were all different and every professor had a different way of teaching, which I liked because it reached out to all the different ways of learning. As for a favorite class, they were all tough, but I found one of the most interesting was molecular biotechnology. It was hard, but some of the things I learned were very, very interesting.
Q. Proudest moment?
A. I think my proudest moment would be back in January, when I received a CARE award. Every quarter, our company gives out these awards to employees who have gone above and beyond, and they recognize that. It was really nice to be recognized for a lot of the extra work I had been doing.
Q. Most rewarding aspect of your job?
A. Definitely getting the results out. That’s the whole point of what we do. We’re very customer focused and patient focused. Being in an oncology lab, we may not actually meet the patients, but behind every sample there is a patient who’s sick and waiting for a test result, so it’s definitely really nice to help do that for them.
Q. What/who inspires you?
A. Besides my family, everyone who supports me. My girlfriend supports me all the time, and she inspires me. Everybody who’s close to me has really helped me out, and I’ve needed every bit of it.
Q. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A. As a little kid I wanted to be a vet, but what kid doesn’t? I never saw myself getting into this when I was smaller, that’s for sure. It’s something you kind of fall into.
Q. How do you hope your career will transition/grow over the next five years?
A. I used to have a really good five-year plan, and I don’t really have one anymore. The past year alone has changed so much. I see myself with Neogenomics, and I definitely see myself in the medical field. I just want to keep growing regardless of who that’s with.
Q. Any hidden talents?
A. I’m pretty good at watersports. Before I started working full time, I loved surfing and wakeboarding.
Q. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
A. I’d probably be a pilot. Everybody always dreams about flying, but you don’t really see too many pilots, and I think it’d be really cool.