2021 Tillman Scholar

Jacob Schillo

Air Force
University of Iowa
Ph.D., Biology

“My military service was defined by diverse teams dedicated to a better world. I will utilize this experience to reshape scientific partnerships and make cancer a disease of the past.”

From an early age, Jake was inspired by the thrilling prospect of serving in the United States Air Force. This childhood dream of being in the military was transformed following the events of 9/11 and became a personal obligation to serve. Jake was selected and served six years as a nuclear weapons specialist in the Air Force, performing operations within two legs of the nuclear triad. Although the weapons system was complex and critical to the safety of the world, Jake knew the most important component was the men and women he served alongside.

Inspired by the technologies he worked with during his military service, Jake began a new career path focused on solving complex diseases. While pursuing his undergraduate degrees, he conducted research focused on discovering the underlying mechanisms by which secondary cancers arise in childhood leukemia patients following treatment. Seeing the destruction cancer can cause firsthand convinced Jake he needed to make an impact in the lives of the patients battling this disease.

Jake is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in genetics at the University of Iowa, where he studies how cancer evolves to evade targeted chemotherapies. He employs unique technologies to answer critical questions, collaborating and adapting to better engage cancer and improve patient outcomes. Through the development of an integrated network of scientists, clinicians, and legislators, Jake is committed to altering the cancer research landscape.