BUSM Welcomes New M.D./Ph.D. Class

The eight stellar students that began the M.D./Ph.D. program in August of 2012 come from diverse backgrounds and distinct life paths, leading them towards the pursuit of a career as a Physician-Scientist.  The following are brief biographies from some of our new class:

During my four years studying Bioengineering at UC San Diego I competed on the UCSD Triathlon Team, was a photographer for the school paper, and volunteered with the Student Health Advocate program.  In addition, I worked at the Cardiac Mechanics Research Group developing a model of adrenergic receptor signaling cascades in cardiomyocytes.  On each of my summer vacations back home in Palo Alto, I worked at Stanford University’s Bio-Robotics lab developing a patient-specific skull base surgical simulator with the goal of improving surgical education as well as improving preoperative planning and surgery rehearsal.  I am excited and fascinated by the innovative use of computers to solve biomedical questions that are difficult to analyze using traditional experimental methods.  In my spare time, in addition to the activities noted above, I enjoy sport rock climbing, skiing, as well as listening to jazz and classical music. – Erik Roberts

I was born in Bombay, India and I moved to Fairfax, Virginia when I was nine. I studied Biomedical Engineering, with at particular focus on Cell and Tissue Engineering, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and worked in Dr. Deborah Andrew’s lab researching a matrix metalloprotease involved in the development of the trachea in Drosophila flies. I also had the chance to intern at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, where I did work on the rapid identification of microbial pathogens and got interested in the study and treatment of infectious diseases. I love going to concerts, visiting museums, and reading about medieval history whenever I get the chance. – Stephanie D’Souza

I grew up in Fairfield, CT and attended Davidson College. I began my research career began at Yale-New Haven Hospital during high school, where I continued working throughout my first few years in college. I studied a polypeptide called preimplantation factor, which growing embryos secrete early on during pregnancy. During the summer after my junior year of college, I wrapped up my undergraduate career by attempting to synthesize novel antiretroviral drugs in the Department of Chemistry at Davidson. In my free time I enjoy playing lacrosse, weight training, and reading. – Michael Romano

I was born in South Korea, but due to my parents’ calling as Christian missionaries I also lived in Great Britain, Guatemala, and for short stints, in other parts of the world. I ended up graduating high school in Fresno, California, and entered the Seven-Year Medical Education Program at Boston University, where I double-majored in Medical Science and Political Science. For my major in Political Science, I wrote an Honors Thesis on the relationship between democracy and public health programs in East Asia under Professor Taylor Boas. My exposure to biomedical research began in high school through two summer research internships at the University of Chicago; at Boston University, I had the great fortune of being able to do research in the lab of Dr. Herbert Cohen of the Renal Section at BMC, where I studied the regulation of an MMP (Matrix Metalloproteinase) gene by Jade-1 (Gene for Apoptosis and Differentiation in Epithelia-1) in human kidney cells. I also had the privilege of being able to do research with Professor Abrams of BU Chemistry, who I helped develop new chemistry protocols for the teaching of undergraduate lab courses. I hope to further explore my interests on the molecular basis for the pathogenesis of cancer during my years in the M.D./Ph.D. program, and find a way to reconcile my passion for serving the disenfranchised with my interests in biomedical research. Outside of academics, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, going for short hikes, and reading Russian literature. – Sanghee Lim

Born in Seoul, I grew up in New Jersey and attended Yale University, where I majored in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics. As an undergrad I worked in three labs: Dr. Harvey Kliman’s lab start-up the estimated placental volume (EPV) project to predict placental size in order to diagnose intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR); Dr. Thomas Biederer’s lab to study the effect of protein Farp1 on neuronal morphology and spine density; and Dr. Jeffrey Sklar’s lab to conduct genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of JAZF1 and its association with Type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer. Outside the lab, I love to draw, read, play computer games, and watch parody/comedy shows. – Yoonjoo Lee

I was born in Queens, NY and spent most of my adolescent years in South Korea. I graduated from Swarthmore College in 2009, majoring in Biology. During my time at Swarthmore, I was also involved in photography work. The works of prominent photojournalists deeply inspired me. My interest in research began with a summer research opportunity program at the University of Michigan with Dr. Yuan Zhu. I continued to work on the research project after graduation. I studied neural stem cell development in the central nervous system. Our study investigated the timing, cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying development-related structural brain defects associated with severe cognitive deficits in neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). It was an exciting opportunity for me to engage in a clinically relevant study. At BUSM, I aim to further develop my interest in cell/molecular biology and neural stem cell development. Outside of academic work, I am an avid tramper and snowboarder. – Edward Kim

I grew up just north of the Bay Area of California and didn’t venture too far when I studied molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley with an emphasis in cell and developmental biology. During that time, I worked with Dr. Gordon Watson at Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute creating and testing the use of adendo-associated virus as a vector for gene delivery to the liver in cholesterol deficient mice. After graduating, I spent three years in a research position at Sangamo BioSciences in Richmond, CA where I worked on the development of zinc finger nucleases as a platform for targeted gene editing and their therapeutic applications for AIDS. After three years, I decide that I wanted to do more in research and medicine. Now I’m at BUSM. I enjoy the sports of bouldering and snowboarding. Once in a while I get out and pretend to be a photographer. – Kevin Hua

I was born in rural mining town in Nevada but moved to Colorado when I was 5. While I had always been intrigued by science, I discovered my passion for medical science while living in South Africa when I was 13. Throughout High School I was exposed to clinical medicine through various shadowing opportunities and a unique Pre-Medicine class offered by my school. I began my undergrad work at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook New York where I studied Pharmacology but transferred to the University of Denver after that one year. I majored in molecular biology at DU while also exploring my interests in International Studies and Biochemistry. Pulling from my experiences from South Africa, I pursued research in the area of Infectious Diseases. My first experience in the lab was at the University of Colorado School of Medicine campus working for Dr. David Beckham. This lab was working to identify the autophagy pathway that is activated in neuro-invasive West Nile Virus infections. I followed this with an Arthritis Foundation fellowship studying the molecular profile of Scleroderma with Dr. Robert Lafyatis at Boston University Medical Campus. I hope to pursue my research interests in both Infectious Diseases and Immunology through the exciting host-pathogen interaction research being done here at BUMC. Outside of the classroom my guilty pleasures include good food and good film. I spent most of my life, including my time in college as a national level swimmer and I hope to continue my active lifestyle throughout my time at BU! – Ian Francis