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Innovative Education

The Weill Cornell Graduate School is welcoming its first class in 2021

We are pleased to introduce you to this inaugural class. The students were asked a few questions about themselves, their interests and their plans.
Rei Abe
Where are you from? Although I was born in Seattle, Wash., I spent my childhood in upstate New York in the city of Rochester. Where did you go to undergrad? I attended New York University and graduated in May of 2020 with a bachelor's in biology.
What are your personal interest/hobbies? I spend a lot of time listening to music and I love exploring different albums and genres. I also enjoy keeping up with different sports and rooting for my favorite teams.
What excites you most about coming to Houston? I spent a few summers in Houston interning at the HMRI - here, I quickly fell in love with the diverse cuisine that Houston offers. I'm looking forward to exploring a variety of restaurants in the food scene while I'm here! What are your professional interests/What are you most looking forward to in your studies? Previously, I have been working at the HMRI in the Department of Cardiovascular Regeneration. During my work here, I have been investigating the molecular mechanisms behind endothelial cell dysfunction, activation and senescence in cardiovascular disease. Through this program, I am looking forward to gaining a broader foundational understanding of the work being done at the institute. Furthermore, I am excited to complement my wet-lab experience with an expansion of my computational biology skills.  What made you choose the WCGS program? My interest in the WCGS program was strongly influenced by my previous experiences and interactions, especially with faculty, here at the HMRI. During my work here, I've found the lab environments to be both welcoming and exciting. Faculty members are tremendously knowledgeable, and many are more than happy to offer advice and mentorship. The possibility of learning from and working with these scientists quickly swayed my decision to choose the WCGS program.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Although I enjoy the research process, designing hypotheses with the translational "bench to bedside" ideal is important to keep in mind as the ultimate goal of research. HMRI's location in the TMC offers ample opportunity to learn and discuss clinical issues with physician-scientists. As a result, using my graduate training, I hope to be involved in the identification of novel therapeutic targets for pathological chronic disorders in the future. Furthermore, I hope to be involved in the process of translating this mechanistic research towards the development of clinical therapies and patient treatment.
Rachel Dubuque Where are you from? Hartland, MI Where did you go to undergrad? Michigan State University
What are your personal interests/hobbies? Swimming, reading, traveling, and visiting with family What excites you most about coming to Houston?
The vibrant cultural scene and the Texas Medical Center What are your professional interests? Understanding the mechanisms of cancer metastasis for the development of cancer therapeutics What made you choose the WCGS program? The opportunity to be performing research in a translational setting and the ability to collaborate with the many neighboring institutions What are you most looking forward to in your studies? Learning more about the field of biomedical research and evolving my research interests to meet the needs of patients in a clinical setting. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Leading a lab in a translational setting, performing research to improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
Julio Mejia Where are you from? Born in El Salvador but have lived in Houston since I was 2 years old Where did you go to undergrad? The University of Texas at Austin for my BS in Chemical Engineering. Hook ’Em! What are your personal interests/hobbies? I’ve gotten into weight training as of late and I’m a slight whiskey enthusiast. For entertainment I enjoy music, anime and all things Disney.
What excites you most about coming to Houston? Correction: *staying in Houston* lol. Answer: Being able to stay around my family and friends and still being part of such a prestigious program. What are your professional interests? In terms of science, I really enjoyed my work using single-cell genomics and multiomics to help characterize the key stem-cell and macrophage populations that take part in certain musculoskeletal and nervous system diseases. I hope to join a lab that can help combine my knowledge of traditional biomedical research with computational science to better understand the intricate biological systems as a whole. What made you choose the WCGS program? I knew Weill Cornell had a prestigious graduate school and when I heard of the collaboration between them and Houston Methodist, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity. What are you most looking forward to in your studies? Being able to apply my knowledge and advance science as a whole. As Dr. Cooke put it so eloquently “To place your brick on the wall of human knowledge.” Where do you see yourself in 10 years? I see myself staying in academia working my way to becoming a PI and establishing my own lab. I want to stay in the more translational side of research and try to develop therapies to help people.
September 2021
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