Sixty-six exceptional medical and veterinary students are embarking on a year of research with support from HHMI.
This summer, 66 exceptional medical and veterinary students from schools throughout the United States will begin a year of biomedical research with fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The students will be supported through HHMI’s Medical Research Fellows Program, which aims to develop the next generation of physician-scientists.
Fifty-two of the fellows are first-time recipients of the fellowship. Fourteen are second-year fellows, who will extend their fellowship and continue their research. This is the highest number of returning fellows in the history of the program.
The program offers medical, dental, and veterinary students the opportunity to take a year away from their training to immerse themselves in a mentored, laboratory-based research project that they have proposed. Each fellow receives $43,000 in grant support.
“The Medical Research Fellows Program is a unique opportunity for students to explore the intersection of science and medicine firsthand in a rigorous and supportive environment. Our hope is that the experience will ignite students’ passion for research and encourage them to pursue careers as physician-scientists,” says David Asai, HHMI’s senior director for science education.
HHMI partners with outside organizations to expand the reach of the program. This year, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the American Society of Human Genetics, the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the Parkinson’s Foundation will provide support for six Medical Research Fellows (Med Fellows). Together, HHMI and its partners invest more than $3 million in the program each year.
The Med Fellows, who come from 38 schools throughout the United States, chose their mentors and worked with them to propose a potentially high-impact research project when they applied to the program. Fellows can conduct basic, translational, or applied biomedical research at any academic or nonprofit research institution in the United States, with the exception of government agencies. As a group, they will work in the laboratories of biomedical scientists at 28 institutions around the country. Thirteen fellows will carry out their research in the labs of HHMI scientists.
Many program participants not only integrate research into their future careers in medicine but also commit to mentoring the next generation of physician-scientists. This year, 10 Med Fellows will be mentored by alumni of the program, which has supported more than 1,800 students since it began in 1989.
All HHMI Med Fellows have prior experience with bench research, but the year-long fellowship offers new opportunities to develop skills and explore scientific interests more deeply.
Anna Cheng, a student at the University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine, says her fellowship has given her the opportunity to think more about how her research fits into the context of other work in the field. Working in the laboratory of HHMI Investigator David Pellman at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Cheng is investigating what causes certain nuclear and chromosomal abnormalities that can compromise cells’ genomic integrity – setting them up for tumor development. She says the experience has been both difficult and rewarding and has chosen to extend her fellowship for a second year. When she returns to medical school, Cheng says she will consider a specialty in pediatric oncology – a field with ample opportunities to integrate research into her clinical practice. “I’m so glad I applied to this program,” she says. “I think it’s life-changing.”
Alyssa Flores, a student at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, will continue her research in Nicholas Leeper’s laboratory at the Stanford University School of Medicine as a second-year fellow. “As we decide to pursue medicine, we fall in love with the science. Understandably, as we progress through training, there is less emphasis on basic science,” says Flores, who has used her fellowship to investigate novel therapies for cardiovascular disease. “Having a year to return to that appreciation has been very special for me. It’s been key to developing a solid foundation of training that I know will help me down the line toward becoming an independent investigator.”
Jasper Chen, a student at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, has valued the opportunity to dig into cancer genetics research as a Med Fellow and says the program’s benefits extend beyond the lab. Med Fellows become part of a supportive community that Chen says has helped him think about how to model his future career. Throughout the year, Med Fellows participate in seminars and discuss careers with alumni of the program, early career faculty, and senior investigators. “Meeting different physician-scientists and finding out about their career paths is a helpful part of the program,” he says. “It’s interesting to see how, with just an MD background, they were able to accomplish so much.”
Like Cheng and Flores, Chen has chosen to extend his fellowship for a second year. During his first year working in the laboratory of cancer biologist Ronald DePinho at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Chen uncovered a particular RNA molecule’s role in sustaining certain cancer cells. Now, he’s exploring exactly how that RNA works. “The ongoing support of this fellowship has really allowed me to focus all my energy on taking my project where it needs to go,” he says.
2018–2019 Medical Research Fellows
|Yale School of Medicine||Yale School of Medicine|
|Uday Agrawal||Harvard Medical School||Harvard Medical School|
|Ahmed Ali||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Northwestern University The Feinberg School of Medicine|
|Oriyomi Alimi||Yale School of Medicine||Yale School of Medicine|
|Razina Aziz-Bose||Stanford University School of Medicine||Stanford University School of Medicine|
|Claire Baniel||University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health||University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health|
|Erik Bao||Harvard Medical School||Harvard Medical School|
|Adip Bhargav||Mayo Clinic - Jacksonville||Mayo Clinic School of Medicine|
|Danilea Carmona Matos||University of Alabama School of Medicine||San Juan Bautista School of Medicine|
|Warren Chan||Stanford University School of Medicine||Baylor College of Medicine|
|Aaron Cheng||Harvard Medical School||Harvard Medical School|
|Corey Cheung||Stanford University School of Medicine||University of California, San Diego School of Medicine|
|Stephanie Chou||Harvard Medical School||California Northstate University College of Medicine|
|Shaleeka Cornelius||Stanford University School of Medicine||Meharry Medical College School of Medicine|
|Sara Drescher||Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center||University of Washington School of Medicine|
|Ritika Dutta||Stanford University School of Medicine||Stanford University School of Medicine|
|Arash Fereydooni||Yale School of Medicine||Yale School of Medicine|
|Christopher Funk||Emory University School of Medicine||Emory University School of Medicine|
|Margery Gang||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine|
|David Goldblatt||University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center||University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine|
|Patrick Halliday||University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine||University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine|
|Kathleen Hanlon||Harvard Medical School||University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix|
|University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine||University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine|
|Alexander Houck||Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons||University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine|
|Julie Hwang||Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons||Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons|
|Min Young Jang||Harvard Medical School||Harvard Medical School|
|Jason Karimy||Yale School of Medicine||Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University|
|Gerina Kim||New York University School of Medicine||University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine|
|Mitali Kini||Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center||Weill Cornell Medicine|
|Alissa Kleinhenz||Duke University School of Medicine||University of Michigan Medical School|
|Aneta Kowalski||University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine||University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine|
|Patrick Lee||Harvard Medical School||Harvard Medical School|
|Brooke Liang||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine|
|Simbiat Olayiwola||Vanderbilt University School of Medicine||Meharry Medical College School of Medicine|
|Tess O'Meara||Yale School of Medicine||Yale School of Medicine|
|Heidi Park||Tufts University School of Medicine||Tufts University School of Medicine|
|Evan Patel||New York University School of Medicine||Northwestern University The Feinberg School of Medicine|
|Lauren Platt||Stanford University School of Medicine||University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine|
|Julie Ramseier||Yale School of Medicine||Yale School of Medicine|
Funder: Parkinson’s Foundation
|Janelia Research Campus||Mayo Clinic School of Medicine|
|Douglas Rioux||Yale School of Medicine||Yale School of Medicine|
|Robert Romano||University of Connecticut School of Medicine||University of Connecticut School of Medicine|
|Bryan Ryba||University of California, San Diego School of Medicine||University of California, San Diego School of Medicine|
|Angelina Seffens||Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons||Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons|
|Nakul Shah||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine|
|Sagar Shah||University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center||University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth-Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine|
|Sumedh Shah||University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine||University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine|
|University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine||University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine|
|Cynthia Truong||Rockefeller University||Baylor College of Medicine|
|Harvard Medical School||Harvard Medical School|
|Sanam Zarei||University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine||University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine|
|Angela Zhu||Harvard Medical School||University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine|
2017–2018 Medical Research Fellows funded for an additional year in the program
|Sarah Amalraj||Yale School of Medicine||Yale School of Medicine|
|Jessica Briscoe||Harvard Medical School||Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine|
|Jasper Chen||University of Texas-MD Anderson Cancer Center||McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston|
|Anna Cheng||Harvard Medical School||USF Health Morsani College of Medicine|
|Bennet Cho||Harvard Medical School||Harvard Medical School|
|Alyssa Flores||Stanford University School of Medicine||Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth|
|Eva Gillis-Buck||University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine||University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine|
|Charles Hwang||University of Michigan Medical School||University of Michigan Medical School|
|Christopher Itoh||Harvard University School of Public Health||University of California, Davis, School of Medicine|
|Christopher Jackson||Yale School of Medicine||Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons|
|Audrey Kindsfather||University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine||University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine|
|Connor Liu||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine||Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine|
|Monica Pomaville||Harvard Medical School||Michigan State University College of Human Medicine|
|University of Oxford||Emory University School of Medicine|