Distinguished Scientist: Rebecca Oberley Deegan, Ph.D.

February 17, 2020

Image with caption: Rebecca (Becky) Oberley Deegan, Ph.D.

Rebecca (Becky) Oberley Deegan, Ph.D.

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony for UNMC's 2019 Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist and New Investigator Award recipients.

  • Name: Rebecca (Becky) Oberley Deegan, Ph.D.
  • Title: Associate professor, UNMC Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Joined UNMC: 2014
  • Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa

Research focus:

Mitigating radiation damage

Distinguished Scientist

The Distinguished Scientist Award -- which is sponsored by the chancellor -- recognizes researchers who have been among the most productive scientists at UNMC during the past five years.

The goal of my research is: To reduce side effects caused by cancer treatment. Radiation and chemotherapy are some of the most effective and common therapies used to treat cancer, but unfortunately, they also damage normal tissues during the process through the formation of free radicals. Our goal is to mitigate this damage to normal tissues while not interfering with the killing of cancer cells.

My research will make a difference because: We currently have two clinical trials at UNMC investigating the effects of one of these compounds that mimics a potent antioxidant enzyme as a radioprotector. I am optimistic that within in the next five-10 years, this compound and compounds like it will be used routinely to combat chemo/radiation damage of normal tissues in cancer patients, which will enhance overall patient quality of life.

The best advice I've ever been given is: Be patient and persistent with your research projects, and follow the research path that is dictated by your results, not your hypothesis.

Three things you may not know about me are:

  • I have been a coach or assistant coach for softball/baseball for my kids every summer since moving to Omaha.
  • Every spring/summer, my husband and I plant a vegetable garden. We had strawberries, green beans, cantaloupe and cucumbers last summer.
  • My suggested career path based on a questionnaire I filled out in college was to be either a nun or a librarian.


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Rosalie Guxman
February 21, 2020 at 7:41 PM

It is so wonderful to share the pride in your accomplishment. You are a shining star in our world, glad to see your work recognized. Your parents must be so proud.

Maneesh Jain
February 19, 2020 at 8:16 AM

Congratulations Becky

Truc Deegan
February 18, 2020 at 10:58 AM

Congratulations Becky! We know you are the best. You really earn the honor. Our love as always, Jim and TrĂșc

amar singh
February 17, 2020 at 11:27 AM

Congrats Becky.

Adam Karpf
February 17, 2020 at 9:47 AM

Congratulations Becky! This is well deserved, and I appreciate the "best advice" you were given.

Peter Iwen
February 17, 2020 at 8:29 AM

Congratulations Rebecca! This is well deserved!