Several aspects of Boston University prompted me to move from Johns Hopkins University. Certainly, its location in Boston is a tremendously positive factor. There is an enormous pool of bright and talented scientists in Boston. But perhaps the most important element was the high level of collaborative interaction that is part of the culture of Boston University. We have a very interactive community here, which is important for professional growth at all levels, from students to faculty.
You serve as chair of the PiBS Admissions Committee. Can you describe that experience?
The admissions process for PiBS is a great deal of work for everyone involved, but it’s very satisfying. I was amazed by the number of high quality applicants we received in the first year, which allowed us to be very selective. It was great to get to know the applicants, first on paper, then in person through the interview process. The aspect that was new to me, as the director of Admissions, was the importance of getting to know all of the applicants we chose to interview, rather than just the few with whom I had formal meetings. This was a significant challenge, but rewarding at the same time.
How does a program like PiBS benefit our PhD students?
There are several benefits to an interdisciplinary umbrella program such as PiBS, particularly for students who have not yet settled on a specific sub-discipline of biomedical science for their doctoral studies. For example, students enter the program without commitment to a specific department, or discipline. This allows them to explore a wide variety of research areas through laboratory rotations in labs spread across eight separate, but related Ph.D. programs, as well as through seminars and other events in various participating departments. Additionally, because the first year curriculum is broad-based, it puts students on a very strong footing to move in whatever direction they chose, not only for their Ph.D. research, but at later stages, as well.
Are you involved in any research at the moment?
My lab studies molecular mechanisms underlying stress signaling. We use yeast as a model system for understanding signal transduction events that are typically initiated at the cell surface and are translated into physiological responses, often through changes in gene expression. We have discovered recently a novel mechanism for control of stress-induced genes, called transcriptional attenuation. We think of this process as a mechanism to keep the control regions of these genes functioning under conditions in which gene expression is turned off, so that gene expression can be activated rapidly and efficiently under emergent conditions. There may be applications of this work to therapeutic gene silencing.
What are the most challenging and the most rewarding parts of your job?
The most rewarding aspects of my job are the research successes. Those discoveries that change the fundamental way in which we think about a process happen only rarely. But when they do, there is nothing quite like it.
How do you like to spend your time outside of BUSM?
My wife and I enjoy travel abroad and are gradually working our way through a long “bucket list”.
Do you have any advice for current students or prospective students?
The primary job of a Ph.D. student is to turn themselves into rigorous, self-critical scientists. It’s not about completing a project, or even about the number of papers you publish during your time here, although these are important aspects of becoming a scientist. If you focus on developing your ability to generate good data and to analyze those data in a critical way, this will serve you very well.
Science was always secondary to dentistry. From as far back as I can remember I have wanted to be a dentist, and naturally, I found myself interested in science. Growing up, I had a strong relationship with my own pediatric dentist and orthodontist, and I really admired him. When it came time to attend college, I decided to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the goal to pursue a career in dentistry.
Why did you choose to come to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM)?
I was really hoping to go to dental school following my senior year of college, but for various reasons, it did not work out that way. While I had a solid Dental Admissions Test (DAT) score and plenty of experience shadowing in the field, I didn’t have the strongest undergraduate GPA. I knew I might have to get a Master’s degree before applying again, and started looking for programs. When I found the BUSM Oral Health Sciences (OHS) Track, I almost thought it was too good to be true! The program was exactly what I needed, and it seemed like it would prepare me well for dental school.
Can you tell me a little about the program you are in?
UNC is a huge school, so to come into a program with only seventeen other students was what initially attracted me to this program. The OHS program is a track within the MA in Medical Sciences program where students take half of their classes with the first-year dental students at the BU Goldman School of Dental Medicine (BUGSDM). These classes are a unique characteristic of the program because they give the OHS students a real chance to experience the rigor of dental school courses. OHS also provides a lot of support to their students. The program director, Dr. Theresa Davies, is so enthusiastic about helping her students achieve their goals. This support system was not something I had in undergrad, and it has really helped me progress through the program.
What are your plans after completing the program?
I officially graduate in September 2013, but I will be walking in the May Commencement ceremony. This fall, I will attend BUGSDM as a dental student. Because I am in the OHS program, I will have already taken a few of my first semester classes, so my schedule will be a little lighter than the other first-year dental students. I hope this extra time will allow me to really focus on my other courses and to explore all my options. After dental school, I want to pursue a specialty in pediatric dentistry or orthodontics.
I came to Boston in June 2012 for the very first time when I started the OHS program. I live in the South End with two roommates, and we love being tourists within the city. We are always finding new restaurants to try. I recently attended my first Celtics game, and I want to go on a Duck tour this summer. The winter seemed very long, and I am happy that it is finally starting to warm up.
What advice can you give other GMS students?
No matter what program you are in, give it all you’ve got. Dr. Davies told me when I entered the program that the work in the upcoming year would be my hardest yet, but that I would be successful as long as I put the effort in. Your work is doable, even when it is most challenging. Seek out a support system, whether it is an advisor, a professor, a classmate, or family and friends. There are resources out there for GMS students to help you throughout your career here – you just have to know how to find them. With the right support system and a strong commitment to your work, you will be able to work hard and succeed.
Dr. Pokines and Dr. Cummings Discuss the JFK Assassination on the PBS Nova Special “Cold Case JFK”
Dr. Pokines and Dr. Cummings discuss the JFK autopsy and demonstrate a possible reconstruction of JFK’s skull with Greg Mahoney (Forensic Artist from the Boston Police Department) on the PBS Nova special “Cold Case JFK”. To view the special, please click here.
Learn more about the Forensic Anthropology program.
Thank you for your interest in the Summer Training as Research Scholars Program. STaRS is a dynamic and focused program that is designed specifically for the enhancement of skills required for successful entrance and completion of a graduate program or an MD/PhD program in the biomedical sciences. STaRS is designed to promote access to graduate education for talented undergraduates from minority groups traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical sciences: African-American, Hispanic, Native American/Native Alaskan, and Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian.
Application Opens November 1, 2013. Apply Now!
Deadline: February 15, 2014
The application portal for GMS programs is now open! Please see our admissions page for details.
Professional Development Award: Due Date extended to November 15th
Operation Gratitude: November 11th-14th and November 18th-21st
“Movember” Men’s Health Bake Sale: November 22nd
For information and to view more events, please check out the GMSSO website.
This message is from Connie Packard, Director of Public Safety, Control Center and Parking Services.
Sept. 18, 2013
Personal safety and security are the shared responsibility of everyone at BU Medical Campus (BUMC) and Boston Medical Center (BMC). The days have begun to be shorter and we want to remind you about how to stay alert and safe. As always, the Public Safety Department urges you to take precautions to protect your personal and BUMC/BMC property.
The following safety tips can help keep you safe and secure.
In the Neighborhood:
- Be aware of people distracting you so they can have an opportunity to take your belongings. Asking you what time it is, if you have a match or for directions are the usual methods.
- Do not use cell phones, iPods or any mobile device when going to and from an outside location. Not only do these items appear valuable to a thief, but they also distract you from paying attention to your surroundings.
- When parking your vehicle, keep doors secured until you are ready to exit. There have been incidents where suspects have opened passenger doors and taken visible property from the front seat.
In the Workplace:
- Never compromise safety or security for the sake of convenience. For example: use our escort shuttle service on campus instead of walking alone, especially when it gets dark.
- Wear your Boston University or Boston Medical Center Identification Badge at all times.
- Always lock your office or work area when you leave for any period of time.
- Never prop doors open.
- When entering “CARD ACCESS ONLY” areas, do not to allow non-ID employees or visitors in behind you.
- If you are using a laptop computer, do not leave it unattended at any time.
- Keep your purse, wallet, keys and other valuables with you at all times or locked in a drawer or cabinet.
- Carry a minimal amount of cash and credit/ATM cards while at school or in the workplace.
- Do not carry passports, visas, or social security cards unless absolutely necessary.
- Immediately report suspicious activity to Public Safety at 414-4444.
- Remain in well-lit, well-traveled areas. Avoid shortcuts and remain alert.
- Do not use cell phones or iPods or other devices with earphones while walking to your destination— this includes walking to garages and waiting at bus stops. When wearing earphones, your hearing is diminished and you become a target for crime. Make yourself familiar with the location of the blue BUMC Public Safety Emergency Call boxes around the campus.
- Travel with a friend or in a group when possible. Utilize the shuttle services or request a public safety escort after hours by calling 617-414-4444 for on campus destinations.
- Have your car or building key in your hand before you reach the door of your car or destination. Do not spend time at your car door or at your destination searching for your keys.
- Always secure your vehicle. Never leave any valuables or contents in plain view. GPS navigation systems, laptop computers, iPods, electronics devices, bags and money left in vehicles are targeted by thieves. If you use a suction device to mount electronic equipment, remove the device and clean the ring left on the windshield or dashboard. The suction device or ring on the windshield is a sign to thieves that devices might be hidden in the vehicle. Lock all property in the trunk prior to parking your vehicle or take it with you.
Please visit our website www.bumc.bu.edu/publicsafety for additional crime prevention information and brochures on personal protection, workplace safety and home security.
Should you have any questions or concerns about your personal safety here at Boston University Medical Campus or Boston Medical Center and would like to speak to me personally, please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me (617-638-4935)
September 17 – 19, 2013
Since 2009, the National Postdoc Association has sponsored National Postdoc Appreciation Week to recognize the significant contributions that postdoctoral scholars make to U.S. research and discovery. Institutions from across the country and parts of the world participate by holding special events. In 2010, this week was officially recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2012, 112 institutions in 32 states and Canada hosted 203 events to show their appreciation of postdocs.
This year, the GMS Office of Professional Development and Postdoctoral Affairs is busy planning its third annual NPAW events which begins with the always popular Ice Cream Social on Tuesday, Sept. 17th from 1:30 – 3:00 pm on Talbot Green (weather permitting) in front of BU School of Medicine Instructional Building. The rain location will be in Hiebert Lounge, 14th floor of School of Medicine Bldg. Please join in celebrating the contributions and achievements of BUMC postdocs on that day.
The Ice Cream Social will be followed by two seminars relevant to trainees.
First of the two is: Scientific Storytelling presented by Dr. Rafeal Luna on Wednesday, Sept., 18 from 12:00 – 1:50 pm in room L-212/214 with lunch provided.
Second seminar is: Communication Styles presented by Sarah Cardozo Duncan, Career Strategist on Thursday, Sept., 19 from 5:30 – 7:00 with reception preceding the presentation. All of those who support the postdoctoral community at BUMC are invited. Please email: Yolanta@bu.edu to register or for more information. Happy National Postdoc Appreciation Week!