Fresh Faces, New Energy: Ben Frisch, Ph.D.

Sep. 30, 2020
Ben Frisch, Ph.D.

An assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, Ben Frisch, Ph.D., grew up in rural Nunda, 53 miles south of Rochester, where his family raised calves for dairy farmers. He and his sisters woke up daily at 5 a.m. to feed the cows before school. He certainly developed a strong work ethic, but Frisch discovered another keen insight about science from farm work: They’re both 24/7 operations. “You never stop thinking about it and put it away,” he says.

Since completing undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Rochester, Frisch has been in non-stop motion at Wilmot, putting that work ethic into play and building smart connections to advance his career and help cancer patients. He is part of a trio that’s designing a unique drug-delivery system for cancer, for example, and has done groundbreaking work on blood cells in some of the most prominent labs at the University. He praises his mentors and the camaraderie among Wilmot researchers: “I don’t think I’ve ever asked someone to work with me and had them say no.”

As an independent investigator, Frisch focuses on bench science that can be applied to leukemia and other blood diseases. His special interest is to further understand what happens in the bone marrow that leads to malignancy, and likewise, how cancer impacts the healthy bone marrow. One of his latest cool projects involves building a model of the human bone marrow on a microchip — allowing his lab to more faithfully recreate the human marrow environment and quickly compare the cells of several leukemia patients and how they react to treatments.