Spotlight on MD/PhD Student: Chad Mayer

in Homepage Spotlights, Student Spotlight
March 11th, 2014

Chad Mayer
MD/PhD Candidate
Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine

Chad Mayer

What brought you to BU?
I decided in college that I wanted to pursue medicine as a career as a way to bring together my love of science and desire to help people in life-altering ways.  While in college I had the chance to get involved in research with one of my professors, and after graduation continued in biomedical research in Seattle.  I have always loved Boston and New England, so I was thrilled when I was accepted to the program here at Boston University, matriculating in 2009.

What program are you in?
I am currently finishing up the PhD portion of the MD/PhD dual-degree program here at Boston University, and am anticipating returning to the 3rd year of medical school this summer.  I have been earning my PhD in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

What kind of research are you involved in?
My research involved better understanding how toxins secreted by certain species of E. coli cause tissue damage, and how both the toxins and that tissue damage compromise endothelial function.  Infection with this bacterium is a leading cause of acute kidney injury in otherwise healthy children, with no current therapies beyond supportive, and I hope that the translational work we are doing will point others in the direction of possible therapies.

What do you hope to do after you earn your degree?
After earning my degree I would like to pursue a residency and fellowship program that combines clinical experience with research training.  I have really enjoyed my experiences tutoring and being on committees here at BU, and would want to work at an academic medical center where there are ample opportunities to mentor students and teach others about all the exciting things medicine and science have to offer.

You were recently awarded the Keystone Award.
The award helps minority students to travel to the national MD/PhD conference in Keystone, CO.  This is a conference run by the MD/PhD students there and is an exciting opportunity to learn about other programs and network on a national level.

Are you involved in many activities on campus?
One great advantage of the MD/PhD program is that during the PhD years students have the opportunity to get involved in a much deeper way on campus.  As such MD/PhD students make up the majority of the tutors for courses such as DRx in BUSM II.  I have been tutoring DRx for 3 years, since taking my USMLE 1.  In addition, I was elected to be one of the MD/PhD student representatives on the admissions committee, and this is my second year helping to decide which of the many excellent candidates will interview and ultimately be accepted to Boston University’s MD/PhD program.  Finally, along with some other MD/PhD students I helped to start a monthly seminar focusing on success stories in scientific careers where we have had the opportunity to hear from some amazing speakers.  I have greatly enjoyed the opportunities that I have had and I hope that wherever I go I can continue to work in whatever program I am in to improve it.

What is your favorite part of your life as a student?
My favorite part of life as a student and an MD/PhD is the way I can make my own opportunities with the support of the faculty here at BU.   Stepping into leadership during my PhD years I have really enjoyed getting involved, and the way so many of the faculty are so approachable and support students’ visions for new interest groups and opportunities really gives students a chance to make their years at the School of Medicine their own personal experience.

What do you enjoy doing outside of BU?
Outside of BU I am very involved in my church and spend a lot of time driving around New England, going on day and weekend trips to the several states we border.  Being from the California and Washington, I’m still not over how easy it is to be in a different state in 30 minutes, and love exploring all the historical towns.  I am also a homebrewer and have enjoyed making up personal beer recipes and sampling the beers other students have brewed!

Do you have any advice for current students?
Don’t think of your program as something to get through.  Networking as you go along and joining committees or starting new seminars can get you recognized on campus and bring opportunities your way you didn’t know existed.  Get involved early while you have time, and work to improve things and make the changes you want to see happen!