Almost Docs: How to pick a research lab

This was originally shared on www.almostdocs.com (which no longer exists???) While I thought I had re-published all of my important articles from that site last year, I guess I missed this one. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Please note that I wrote this in 2014!!!

Whether you’re a pre-med who wants to build your resume for medical school, a medical student who wants to fill a free summer, or a graduate student, you’re probably going to be doing research. Before you jump in to trying to join a research group, I am here to warn you that not every research environment is equal (as I’ve learned the hard way, which sort of makes me an expert so you probably heed my warning). If you do it right, there is a lot to consider when finding a research advisor that is best for you, which is ultimately what’s important.

If the thought of picking a research advisor makes you feel a little like this:

Then this list of considerations is for you.

1. What area of research do you want to be in?

First things first, you need to narrow down your options. Often this will be in your major or graduate program area, so hopefully you’ve already had a chance to reflect on this. Do you want to do biology or engineering or anthropology? Whatever it is, look for professors who are doing research in that area.

2. Does your personality fit with that of the Primary Investigator (PI)?

Before asking to join a lab, it is essential that you reach out to the PI (or the professor in charge of the lab, for those who do not know). Talk to them about their research and the lab environment and by doing so, try to gauge how well you would work together. The PI will be your primary advisor in the lab and you need to make sure that you will be able to work with them and be successful.

3. How involved is the PI in their students?

Some PIs expect a detailed schedule of their students’ work and oversee it closely while others lay back and don’t keep a close watch on their students at all. Of course these are the extremes, but you will find PIs along a whole spectrum of involvement. Depending on your work ethic and confidence, one extreme or the other may be better for you. It is important to understand how you work to understand what you’re looking for in a PI. Remember, if a PI is more laid back, you will have to be more driven and independent to get the work done. On the other hand, if you’re more independent, a PI that sort of hovers will be quite frustrating.

Also, ask the students in the lab about the PI. You may find out even more information to sway your decision (such as if the PI has a short temper – true story).

4. How much do students have control of their own project?

This related to #3 and mostly pertains to those students in graduate school. To become an independent researcher (as is the goal of graduate school), you need practice planning your own research. If your PI doesn’t let you do much of the planning, you won’t get this experience and you might get stuck doing work that you do not want to do.

5. Do students get adequate guidance?

How often do students in the lab meet with the PI? Are there regularly scheduled individual meetings? Do they have to present regularly at group meeting? Does the PI have an open door policy? Is the PI always traveling? Are there senior scientists, post docs, or senior grad students in the lab that can provide guidance as well? Research is based on mentorship and you need a mentor that will be available to you.If you’re new to research, especially, figure out whom you will be working with and if you will be able to work well with them. Will they be a strong supporter of your development as a researcher?

6. How large is the lab?

A large lab may mean getting lost within the students and not having adequate access to the PI, but it also means having lots of students to rely on and work with as well as greater resources. A small lab likely means a more personal environment but possibly less equipment. Will a small lab be adequate for the research that you would want to do? How personal of an experience do you want?

7. Do you get along with the students?

You will likely be spending most of your time with the other students in the lab rather than the PI. It is quite important that you will be able to get along with them otherwise working in the lab may not be the greatest experience. How close are the students? Are there cliques? Does your personality fit within the group? Do they like to chat? Do they like to chat so much that it affects work time? Do they hang out outside of lab? Being social and working well together is great. Being too social and not getting enough work done is not so great.

8. Will they pay you?

Oh, the ever so important issue – money. As a novice to research, it is often expected that at least initially you will be volunteering in the lab. Perhaps if the PI has enough money, they will be able to pay you eventually, which is an important thing to figure out early on. For graduate students, this will determine whether you will have to do additional outside work to make your money.

9. If you’re a grad student, will you have to TA?

Going along with #8, the usual way for graduate students to earn their stipend other than being paid by their PI is to serve as a teaching assistant. Of course, this takes away time for doing research, which is what you’re there to do (unless you’re an awesome person who also likes to teach!) Many programs require at least some TA experience, but depending on the PI’s funding level you may need to do more than required. Also, if you’re not comfortable with teaching/have no interest in doing it, you also may not want to join a lab that will require it for your pay.

10. How well funded is the lab?

Money isn’t just essential for your pay; it is essential for the research. Does the PI have enough money to do the work that you will be doing or will you be restricted by funds? This can likely affect your success in the lab if you cannot do the work that you need to do to get results.

10. How much time is expected from you?

Does the PI want 10 hours a week or 70 hours a week? Do they not care about the time as long as you get the work done? Do they require you to work on weekends? Most of us try to have lives outside of lab, so this is an incredibly important consideration and the required time can vary drastically.

11. How long does it normally take for students in the lab to complete their degree/publish a paper?

Being published is a major measure for the success of a researcher. If you want to publish as an undergrad or a medical student, it is important to try to feel out the chance that you would get published from your work in the time that you have. If you are a grad student, you want to make sure that you will be able to publish in an adequate amount of time since you usually need to publish to get your degree.

12. Where does the lab normally publish?

Not every research journal is equal. Some hold much more prestige than others and many people look at where people publish as a marker of their success not just if they publish. If this is important to you, look to the PI’s papers and see where they tend to publish. It is important to note that often publishing in the top journals requires much more data, which means it likely takes longer to produce a paper for journals of that caliber, so that might also be a deterrent.

13. What is the specific research topic in the lab?

Finally, we’ve reached the topic that many make a mistake by considering too greatly. Sure you picked a field of research in your first consideration, but you haven’t yet considered the exact topic in the lab. There’s a reason – it honestly isn’t that important as a trainee. If you’re going to be doing research as your career, then you’ll have more freedom to study what you want, but as a trainee, the most important thing is becoming skilled as a researcher. Maybe you want to study RNA splicing in liver development but you end up studying signaling pathways in neurogenesis. Guess what, you’re still doing research and getting the experience that you need to move on to the next step in your career path. Picking a broad topic within your field of choice – such as cancer like me – can be a good idea as a basis for your career, but don’t pick a specific area that restricts your choice of labs, which may make it harder to find a lab that fulfills the other considerations.

Now with this guide, go forth and find a research lab that is best for you and discover great things!

Guest post: Keeping it Real: How to Excel in Graduate School

The purpose of this blog is to share personal accounts of MD/PhD training, and I’m excited to expand the perspectives presented here with guests posts. This post is by Alex Yang, who also contributed the blog’s first guest post.


Keeping it Real: How to Excel in Graduate School

Alex Yang, PhD

As I am writing this piece, I have just finished my PhD years, and I am awaiting to start clerkships in medical school as soon as I’m able. Although challenging, my PhD years have been extremely rewarding. I was able to share my work in an international conference in Colorado, receive my own F30 NIH funding, publish a first-author manuscript in Nature Metabolism, and make lifelong friends. Some of you might be interested in graduate school, pursuing graduate school, or currently in graduate school right now. I want to personally share with you my top three tips for success for all of you.

1. Choosing a mentor

 I think the number one decision that influences your success in graduate school is choosing the right mentor for you. While it is true that the right mentor is different for everyone, there are some general rules you should follow in my experience to choose the right one for you. Depending on the department, there are minimum number of rotations to do before you commit to a lab. I strongly suggest you take up all of the rotations even if you feel strongly about one lab. It will increase your experiences as a scientist, and even if you don’t end up joining the lab, it can open doors for future collaborations as well.

When the time comes to make a decision, there are a lot of factors that might end up crossing your mind: environment, personnel, funding, and the actual science. While different people might have differing opinions, I strongly suggest prioritizing the lab environment and funding of the lab over the actual science in the lab. A PhD is challenging enough as it is. Don’t make it even harder on yourself joining a lab struggling to fund itself even if the science interests you the most. You are not bound by the subject matter that you study during your PhD. Most people I know enter another subject matter as a post-doc. What is important is that you receive the best training under the best environment possible as a PhD student. So, if it comes down to it, choose the environment over the science. Who knows? You might fall in love with the science like I did over time. I was not initially interested in adipocyte biology. Over the years though, I cannot imagine researching anything else besides adipocytes.

2. Work on multiple projects at once

For MD-PhD students and even normal PhD students, time is of the essence. We all hear horror stories of 6-8 years PhDs. That’s not ideal for any graduate student. While some circumstances are unavoidable, there are things directly under your control. We all know the failure rate of science is extremely high. Probably 95-99 % of science is failure. What we can do to hedge ourselves against failure is to work on multiple projects at once. Even if one fails, you have others going at the same time. This might be extremely hard to do and to balance your time, but it’ll be worth it when the failures start to mount.

For me personally, I was able to finish my PhD in 3.5 years. Even for a MD-PhD student, that’s relatively quick. I was extremely lucky to do so of course. However, luck favors the prepared. In the beginning, I worked on 3 different projects simultaneously. One project completely failed, another project was slowed by mass spectrometry difficulties, and my third project evolved into my thesis. As a result of diversifying my projects and not sticking to one project, I was able to find a project that successfully worked and was able to graduate quickly.

3. Be aware of your mental health

Science is hard. Failure is not easy to accept, yet we fail everyday as scientists. Compound the failure you experience in lab with the failure you might experience in your personal life and that can result in mental hardships. Graduate students are 3-6x more likely to experience depression and anxiety compared the general population. It’s time to address the problem and end the stigma of mental health problems. Mental health is your health. If you are feeling burned out, tell your mentor and seek professional health as hard as it might be.

For me personally, despite my successes in graduate school, I experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety during the last 6 months of my graduate school as I worked on my thesis. The stress of writing a review paper, finishing my experiments, writing my thesis, and preparing to defend compounded with my own personal problems. I started to feel burned out and had to seek professional help. Today, I am glad to say I’ve recovered and look forward to my future. I am mentally healthy now, and I owe that to the professionals that helped me through it. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to seek out help.

These are my top tips for you to succeed in graduate school. Every journey is different, but if you take these tips at heart, I think it will truly make your experience in graduate school better. If you want more advice, Hanna and I are more than welcome to answer any questions and give you advice. We are both active on Twitter she is @MDPhDtoBe and mine is @MDPhDinProgress. Since we are both interested in hepatology, class of 2022, and have such similar account names, I consider her my Twitter twin. It has been an honor to contribute to her blog not once but now twice. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us!


About Alex

I’m a 7th year MD/PhD student at Wayne State University studying genetic mechanisms of fatty liver disease. In my spare time I like to cook, exercise, play video games, and write. Check me out on twitter @MDPhDinProgress.

I’m now a PhD 🎓

So a cool thing happened this summer…

Instagram | @MDPhDToBe

After 6 years…

Instagram | @MDPhDToBe

And countless western blots, qPCRs, and experiments performed…

I wrote my PhD dissertation.

And defended my PhD.

And now I have a pretty cool piece of paper!

Instagram | @MDPhDToBe

Thank you, thank you, thank youuuuu to all of the absolutely amazing people who helped me reach this huge goal, including but not limited to my PhD advisor, my labmates, my family, my partner, my friends, and my cats. 😸

Time to get that MD.

Almost Docs: How I Found an Online Community

This was originally shared on www.almostdocs.com (which no longer exists???) in May 2018. Twitter is a great place for connecting with other folks in the medical profession, so I thought I’d share it here!


I didn’t know much about MD/PhD programs as an undergraduate. I found some resources online and met with the program director at my school, but I didn’t really have easy access to any current MD/PhD students to go to for advice as I was preparing to apply to medical school. I also didn’t know many pre-meds or join any pre-med clubs. I hadn’t planned on going to medical school until late into undergrad, so I didn’t have a supportive group that would be going through the same grueling process that I was about to undertake. So I went to social media.

The summer I applied to medical school, I made a Twitter account specifically for connecting with the medical community. Twitter was an ideal platform for this purpose because of the short character limits for posts, the ability to make public posts and follow others who do not necessarily have to follow you back, the easy ability to retweet (or share) another account’s post on your own timeline, hashtags to connect posts to those of related content, and handles that allow you to establish your identity while also maintaining anonymity if desired (for example, I started being known as only pre-MD/PhD Life). While other social media sites have incorporated some of these aspects, Twitter remains the best site I’ve found for a robust discussion within a broad community.

I began by finding other pre-med accounts to follow. I did this by searching for those that had “pre-med” in their name or bio and then going through their following list to find others. Soon some started to follow me back. We would comment in response to each other’s posts and encourage each other when things didn’t go as planned. Some of these people I’ve even met in real life. Many of these people have since started med school, finished grad school, and are now in residency, and it’s been an absolute joy to see them progress through their training. I’m glad to learn from this community that has supported me since my early days of pursuing medicine.

Yet, here I am, 5 years in and still in the graduate phase on my MD/PhD program, which is one of the challenging things about this training pathway. As a MD/PhD student, the people who started med school the same time as me could nearly be practicing physicians by the time I step into the clinic as a 3rd year medical student! Therefore, I needed to have a community of physician-scientist trainees who could understand the more unique aspects of our training that those in other tracks could not. There were a few of us who found each other on Twitter, but it was harder to find those who could provide insight from further along the training path in my early days on Twitter. I joined a local MD/PhD trainee community upon beginning my program, but that still didn’t give me a global perspective on what it’s like to be a physician-scientist in training.

There’s an added benefit when trainees from different institutions come together. They can learn about the different ways their programs ultimately train them for a career as a physician-scientist. For example, mine starts in the PhD portion, others start with med school and transition to the PhD two years in, and some have even moved part of the clinical rotations to before the PhD. There may be things that other programs do to help their students develop into physician-scientists that mine doesn’t and vice versa. Such a community can provide support and diverse insights, which can help identify ways by which our training and medicine in general can be improved.

To help facilitate this discussion, the hashtag #DoubleDocs was recently adopted by the physician-scientist trainee community to connect trainees from undergraduate to residency and beyond. It was designed to be inclusive to both MD and DO trainees as well as those who have chosen to pursue a PhD and those who pursue other paths for research training. It does not mean double doctorates, but docs who are doubly in the research and medical worlds. What is special about this hashtag is that it rose organically from the physician-scientist trainee community as a way to stay connected. Unlike other hashtags, it is intended to have a specific focus on the training aspect of physician-scientists.

Taking this a step further, I, along with my colleagues in the American Physician Scientists Association, utilized Twitter’s list feature to make it easier for physician-scientist trainees to find each other. On the APSA twitter account (@A_P_S_A), we now have public lists for students at different stages and pathways of training including pre-med, MD/DO students, MD/DO-PhD students, Residents and Fellows, and established physician-scientists who can be resources for trainees. People can subscribe to these lists to find the Twitter accounts of other #DoubleDocs.

In the span of a few days from the start of this hashtag, I made nearly 100 new connections to trainees across the globe that have a similar career goal and unique training path, which highlights the power of Twitter to bring people together. Social media can get a bad rep, but it can also be quite useful! #DoubleDocs is just one hashtag, but so many others exist that can help people find a community!


If you like my writing, please consider following my blog. There’s a link near the top of the side bar to do so. Also, feel free to like my Facebook page (MD, PhD To Be), follow me on Twitter (@MDPhDToBe), and follow me on Instagram (MDPhDToBe). I am trying my best to remain active in each of these channels throughout my training! Any questions, comments, or requests for future blog posts can of course be directed to me from any of these locations or directly emailed to me at via the connect page. Thank you for reading!

My MD/PhD Timeline

A few months ago, I wrote an article for Almost Docs on the daily life of a MD/PhD student. To follow up, I wanted to highlight how my daily life can change dramatically depending on the semester and stage of training. I also wanted to show how many things a MD/PhD student may need to balance at the same time! Therefore, here’s an overview of what I have generally had going on each semester thus far in my program (maybe not the most exciting read but more of a reference for those of you out there who are interested.)

MDPhD Timeline

Year 1

Fall 2013

Classes:

  • Advanced biochemistry (MCB501)
  • Advanced molecular genetics (MCB502)
  • M1 Clinical Practice Preceptorship – shadowing a local physician

Research:

Professional Meetings:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat (August 2013), Champaign, IL
  • Minnesota Neuro-Oncology Symposium (September 26-27, 2013), Minneapolis, MN

Spring 2014

Classes:

  • Tumor Targeting Seminar (MCB529)
  • Immunology (MCB408)
  • M1 Immunology
  • M1 Brain, Behavior and Human Development
  • MIP Seminar (MIP595)
  • M1 Clinical Practice Preceptorship – shadowing a local physician

Teaching:

  • Introduction to Microbiology Lab (MCB101) – 10 hours/week Teaching Assistant Position

Research:

  • Trying to get things started in lab…
  • Presented a poster at Research Day

Professional Meetings:

  • College of Medicine Annual Research Day (April 17, 2014), Champaign, IL
  • American Physician Scientists Association Annual Meeting (April 23-25, 2014), Chicago, IL

Summer 2014

Classes:

  • Computational Genomics – 1-week intensive course

Research:

  • Wrote an entire NIH F30 Fellowship Application and didn’t submit! 😳

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Member

Professional Meetings:

  • American College of Physicians Leadership Day (May 18-19, 2014), Washington, DC

Year 2

Fall 2014

Classes:

  • Frontiers in Physiology (MCB509)
  • Research Ethics (MCB580)
  • M1 Physiology I

Teaching:

  • Anatomy & Physiology Lab I (MCB245) – 10 hours/week Teaching Assistant Position

Research:

  • SWITCHED LABS
  • Trying to get things started…again.
  • Started collected data on research project #2.

Professional Meetings:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat (August 23, 2014), Champaign, IL
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Annual Retreat (September 12, 2014), Champaign, IL

Spring 2015

Classes:

  • Metabolic Diseases (MCB493)
  • M1 Physiology II
  • MIP Seminar (MIP590)

Research:

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Member

Professional Meetings:

  • College of Medicine Annual Research Day (April 16, 2015), Champaign, IL
  • American Physician Scientists Association Annual Meeting (April 24-26, 2015), Champaign, IL

Summer 2015

Research:

  • Wrote an entire NIH F30 Fellowship Application and submitted this time! (wasn’t funded)
  • Started working on research project #1 (tech working on project with me left! 😢)

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Member
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Student Committee, Retreat Subcommittee Chair

Professional Meetings:

  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Metabolic Signaling and Disease: From Cell to Organism (August 11-15, 2015), Cold Spring Harbor, NY

Year 3

Fall 2015

Classes:

  • M1 Anatomy
  • M1 Cell and Tissue Biology
  • M1 Embryology
  • MIP Seminar (MIP595)

Research:

  • Trying to keep chugging along on project #1
  • Crazy month of collecting data for RO1 re-submission (80 hours on campus in 5 days during that period – my record!)

Teaching:

  • Anatomy & Physiology Lab I (MCB245) – 20 hours/week Teaching Assistant Position

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Co-Chair
  • Internal Medicine Interest Group M1 Representative
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Student Committee, Retreat Subcommittee Chair
  • American Physician Scientists Association Events Committee Member

Professional Meetings:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat (August 23, 2015), Champaign, IL

Spring 2016

Classes:

  • M1 Anatomy
  • M1 Cell and Tissue Biology II
  • MIP Seminar (MIP595)

Research:

  • Gave my first departmental seminar on project #1!
  • Gave a talk at the UIUC Division of Nutritional Sciences Symposium
  • Gave a talk at the UIUC Beckman Institute Graduate Student Seminar

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Co-Chair
  • Internal Medicine Interest Group M1 Representative
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Student Committee, Retreat Subcommittee Chair
  • American Physician Scientists Association Events Committee Member

Professional Meetings:

  • College of Medicine Annual Research Day (April 14, 2016), Champaign, IL
  • American Physician Scientists Association Annual Meeting (April 15-17, 2016), Chicago, IL
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Annual Retreat (April 29, 2016), Monticello, IL

Summer 2016

Research:

  • First summer with no NIH F30 Fellowship Application writing 😁
  • Trying to keep chugging along with project #1

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Co-Chair
  • American Physician Scientists Association Events Committee Co-Chair
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Council of Student Members Representative
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Governor’s Advisory Council Member

Professional Meetings:

  • American College of Physicians Leadership Day (May 3-4, 2016), Washington, DC
  • American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting (May 5-7, 2016), Washington, DC
  • American Physician Scientists Association Leadership Retreat (June 16-17, 2016), Atlanta, GA

Year 4

Fall 2016

Classes:

  • M1 Biochemistry
  • M1 Medical Genetics
  • M1 Microbiology
  • M1 Foundations of Clinical Medicine I
  • MIP Seminar (MIP595)

Teaching:

  • Anatomy & Physiology Lab I (MCB245) – 20 hours/week Teaching Assistant Position

Research:

  • Kept chugging along with project #1

Service:

  • Internal Medicine Interest Group Vice President
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Student Committee
  • Medical Scholars Program Advisory Council Class II Representative, Basic Sciences Subcommittee Representative
  • American Physician Scientists Association Events Committee Co-Chair
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Council of Student Members Representative
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Governor’s Advisory Council Member

Professional Meetings:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat (August 20, 2016), Monticello, IL
  • American Physician Scientists Association Midwest Regional Meeting (November 5, 2016), Omaha, NE
  • American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Liver Meeting (November 11-15, 2016), Boston, MA

Spring 2017

Classes:

  • M1 Neuroanatomy and Neurophysiology
  • M1 Biochemistry
  • M1 Medical Statistics
  • MIP Seminar (595)
  • Last semester of M1 classes!

Teaching:

  • Graduate Teacher Certificate

Research:

  • Kept chugging along with project #1

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Member
  • Internal Medicine Interest Group Vice President
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Student Committee
  • Medical Scholars Program Advisory Council Class II Representative, Basic Sciences Subcommittee Representative
  • Accreditation Monitoring and Quality Improvement Committee, Medical Students Subcommittee, Urbana Campus Representative
  • American Physician Scientists Association Events Committee Co-Chair
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Council of Student Members Representative
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Governor’s Advisory Council Member
  • American College of Physicians Council of Student Members (National) Representative

Professional Meetings:

  • American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting (March 30-April 1, 2017), San Diego, CA
  • Central Society for Clinical and Translational Research Annual Meeting (April 20-21, 2017), Chicago, IL
  • American Physician Scientists Association Annual Meeting (April 21-23, 2017), Chicago, IL

Summer 2017

Research:

  • Wrote an entire NIH F30 Fellowship Application and submitted it! (It was funded this time!!!)
  • Started writing up paper for project #1

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Member
  • Accreditation Monitoring and Quality Improvement Committee, Medical Students Subcommittee, Urbana Campus Representative
  • American Physician Scientists Association Vice President
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Governor’s Advisory Council Member
  • American College of Physicians Council of Student Members (National) Representative

Professional Meetings:

  • American College of Physicians Leadership Day (May 23-24, 2017)
  • American Physician Scientists Association Leadership Retreat (July 22-23, 2017), Atlanta, GA
  • American College of Physicians Council of Student Members (National) Meeting (August 11, 2018), Philadelphia, PA

Year 5

Fall 2017

Classes:

  • Biostatistics (STAT212)
  • Exercise Oncology (KIN494)
  • The Literature of Fantasy (ENGL119) – This was a class I took for fun comparing Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (my favorite!) and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books.

Research:

  • First paper (project #1) posted on BioRXiv: http://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/09/11/182469
  • Submitted paper to journals, worked on final touches
  • Wrote a 100-page preliminary exam document (first draft of my thesis!) and did an oral defense (I passed so now I’m All But Dissertation – ABD!)

Service:

  • Internal Medicine Interest Group President
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Student Committee
  • Medical Scholars Program Advisory Council Class II Representative, Social Chair
  • American Physician Scientists Association Vice President
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Governor’s Advisory Council Member
  • American College of Physicians Council of Student Members (National) Representative

Professional Meetings:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat (August 19, 2017), Monticello, IL
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Students and Residents Day (October 24, 2017), Springfield, IL
  • Hepatobiliary Cancers: Pathobiology and Translational Advances Meeting (December 8-10, 2017), Richmond, VA

Spring 2018

Classes:

  • MIP Seminar (MIP595)

Research:

  • Submitted paper to journal for project #1, got reviews back, working on revisions!!!
  • Helping new graduate student start to take on project #2

Service:

  • Medical Scholars Program Annual Retreat Committee Member
  • Internal Medicine Interest Group President
  • Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology Student Committee
  • Medical Scholars Program Advisory Council Class II Representative, Social Chair
  • American Physician Scientists Association Vice President
  • American College of Physicians Downstate Illinois Governor’s Advisory Council Member
  • American College of Physicians Council of Student Members (National) Representative

Professional Meetings:

  • American Physician Scientists Association Midwest Regional Meeting (January 13, 2018), Iowa City, IA
  • Big Ten Lipids Conference (Feburary 16, 2018), West Lafayette, IN
  • Midwest Liver Symposium (April 12-13, 2018), Kansas City, KS
  • American College of Physicians Board of Governors Meeting and Internal Medicine Meeting (April 17-21, 2018), New Orleans, LA
  • American Physician Scientists Association Annual Meeting (April 20-22, 2018), Chicago, IL

 

What’s to come?

As I write this in April of my 5th year, I have about 1 more year to finish up my PhD. Then I’ll go on to start my second year of medical school in August 2019 and will finish my MD in May 2022!

A Day in the Life of a MD/PhD Student

Over the years, I’ve had quite a few requests to describe my daily life as a MD/PhD student. I’ve thought long and hard about how to do this since my days are so variable. For example, today I’m in lab running genotyping gels and I’ll be heading to the animal facility later to cut tails for more genotyping (it’s a big week for making sure the genotype of all of my animals is correct!) However, I know tomorrow will be totally different!

Now that I’m in my 5th year of training, my sample size for days as a MD/PhD student is rather large, and I think I’m finally ready to perform some analysis!

You can find the results in my newest Almost Docs post titled: A Day in the Life of a MD-PhD Student.

This is still rather general, as I’m trying to summarize my experience in less than 750 words. Nonetheless, it may not be representative of other MD/PhD students, and I encourage others to please share your experience as well! I don’t usually take guests posts, but I would be glad to take guest posts on this! This is important not only for helping out prospective MD/PhD trainees but also for educating the public about the work that goes in to becoming a physician-scientist.

Keep an eye out in the future for a blog post about how my activities have changed depending on the semester as I continue to try to explain the weird integrated structure of my program. 🙂

In the mean time, here’s a picture of my cat (Smeagol) cuddling up with a book that I read for class last semester:

Image 2018-01-15_13-39-39-744

Update (4/14/18): I have finally published “My MD/PhD Timeline“. As promised above, this post lists out how my activities have changed based on the semester.

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