Gratitude for UWO leads to scholarship

After biology researcher and alumnus Craig Cady’s wife died in 2015, he and his son were inspired to establish a scholarship in memory of her commitment to biology students.

Alumnus Craig Cady ’76 and MS ’87, and his late wife, alumna Mary McAsey ’75 and MS ’79, met at UW Oshkosh.

“I worked in a little lab, it was like a closet, and Mary worked in the outer lab, and I would pass her every morning and say, ‘Good morning,’” Cady said. “This went on for about a year and then finally she said we ought to go out sometime and we did and we hit it off.”

Both Cady and McAsey shared a passion: to make a difference with their research and help people.

McAsey was an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine. She was also the director of research and laboratory director for the SIU Fertility and IVF Center.

Cady is an associate professor of biology at Bradley University where he manages a lab with a team of students researching ways to treat ovarian and pancreatic cancer, heart disease and parathyroid issues.

“The cure rate for ovarian and pancreatic cancer is very low and hasn’t changed in 30 years, so we need something new,” Cady said. “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’s lab 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.

Through his lab, Cady provides hands-on research opportunities to high school and undergraduate students.

“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.”

As undergraduate students at UW Oshkosh, Cady said he and McAsey spent a lot of time in the lab and like many college students they were financially stressed.

“There were a lot of distractions because of that. Just paying the rent was a challenge,” Cady said. “Mary and I both never forgot that. We thought if we could contribute or improve the financial situation of students through a small scholarship, it would really be of benefit to them.”

Cady and his son Craig W. Cady established the Mary McAsey Biology Scholarship in 2015 in memory of McAsey who died in November 2015 after a long battle with breast cancer.

The scholarship is designed for full-time undergraduate and graduate students at UW Oshkosh pursuing a degree in biology.

“Setting up a scholarship is something Mary and I had discussed, so my son and I knew we wanted to establish a scholarship in her memory,” Cady said. “Mary wanted to become a biologist in kindergarten. She knew the direction she wanted to go and she was probably one of the warmest people I know. I aspire to be more like that and I’ve learned a lot from her.”

Watch the video and check out photos from Cady’s research lab.

Latest comments
  • Condolences on Craig’s loss of Mary, but admiration for his & Mary’s work and Craig’s dedication to her legacy and their work. I’m also a 1975 BS-Biology Grad. and tremendously appreciate the educational and work experiences gained at UW-O, as well as the life-long friends made there. Joan Korb

  • I KNEW CRAIG THROUGH THE ILL-FATED MEXICO TRIP. AND GAINED A LOT OF RESPECT FOR HIS SINCERITY AND DOGGED PERSEVERANCE IN COLLECTING BIOLOGICAL SAMPLES. WE WORKED IN THE SPIDER LAB FOR A SEMESTER, AND MARY WORKED IN THE LAB IMMEDIATELY OUTSIDE IT. SHE WAS TREMENDOUSLY INTELLIGENT AND DEDICATED TO RESEARCH. MY CONDOLENCES ON THE LOSS OF A WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING.
    I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO PURSUE EDUCATION AT THE LARGEST UW BRANCH (MADISON), BUT I ELECTED TO ATTEND UW-O BECAUSE OF THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION, TEACHERS, AND A SMALLER CAMPUS. I SINCERELY APPRECIATE EVERYTHING I LEARNED THERE — I GAINED A LOVE FOR BIOLOGY AND GRADUATED WITH A BS-BIO/ZOOLOGY ALSO.
    SYLVIA BREY MILLER. DVM
    COLONEL, VETERINARY CORPS, US ARMY RESERVES

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