Posts in Alumni Profiles

The Surgeon-Scientist: A Conversation With Alumni Continued

J-N Gallant (M3)
October 30, 2017
Posted in Alumni Profiles

I left the first part of my conversations with surgical alumni feeling relieved. My angst during graduate school was normal, as was my current contrarian career approach. Still, the road ahead seems more than daunting—how can one manage an 80 (theoretically) hour week and maintain one’s curiosity? How can one balance getting things done and being creative? How did these folks make it through? Turns out the answer was simpler than I thought: hard work and determination—no overthinking, brooding, or rumination. In talking to alumni, it became painfully clear that there simply was no other option. Those that responded, those that made it through, the surgeon-scientists, etc. simply put their head down and worked. They wouldn’t have it any other way and there was no other way. These alumni’s thoughts about their time after the MSTP, during residency, and as surgical attendings bear out this reality.

Alumni Profile: James Atkinson, M.D., Ph.D.

Rachel Brown (G1)
September 28, 2017
Posted in Alumni Profiles

After growing up in Alabama, Dr. Atkinson attended Vanderbilt University, where he received a B.A. in Biology. He then entered the Vanderbilt M.D.- Ph.D. program with a Vivian B. Allen Medical Scientist Scholarship. He worked in the laboratory of Virgil LeQuire, M.D. and Larry Swift, Ph.D., where he studied the sarcoplasmic reticulum in the muscle disorder myotonia congenita using a unique animal model in goats (known as “fainting” or “nervous” goats). He completed a residency program in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Vanderbilt, where he served as Chief Resident. He then joined the faculty in the Department of Pathology, serving as Director of the Autopsy Service at Vanderbilt and the VA and Director of Surgical Pathology, successfully attaining the rank of Professor. 

The Surgeon Scientist: A Conversation with Alumni

J-N Gallant (M3)
August 28, 2017
Posted in Alumni Profiles

As I slogged through my cancer biology PhD I felt a constant and vague unease about the future: what was I going to “do,” clinically? My PhD was coming along, as well as it could, and return to clinic seemed ever closer. I knew I wanted to be involved in the care of cancer patients; but, I wanted to approach the problem from a different angle and to use my time in another way. To these ends, I explored oncology-related surgical subspecialties during my PhD. Spending more time with each of these services led to my current passion for otolaryngology, which is what I intend to match into next year. However, now that I’m sold on a surgical career, I’m faced with the daunting prospects of life as a surgeon-scientist. There’s a clear need for basic science research in otolaryngology, especially when it comes to tumor biology. I am well positioned to make immediate impacts on people’s lives, surgically, and to make lasting contributions to the field by leading a molecular biology lab. In order learn more about what’s ahead of me, I reached out to alumni from our program who are completing or have completed surgical residencies. 

Alumni Profile: J. Joshua Smith, M.D. Ph.D.

Abin Abraham (G1)
June 27, 2017
Posted in Alumni Profiles

I joined the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) as a late bloomer, after my second year of general surgery residency, and spent four years (2006-2010) in the Beauchamp laboratory. The title of my Ph.D. thesis was Biological Models of Colorectal Cancer Metastasis and Tumor Suppression Provide Mechanistic Insights To Guide Personalized Care of the Colorectal Cancer Patient. Upon completion of my surgical training, I pursued a fellowship in Complex Surgical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), with a major emphasis in colon and rectal cancer. I served as the Chief Administrative Fellow for the Department of Surgery at MSK in 2014-15 and joined the faculty in 2015 as a colorectal surgical oncologist and physician-scientist embedded in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Sawyers. In my first year, I obtained three society-funded grants, and I am currently applying for early-career NIH funding under the guidance of Dr. Julio Garcia-Aguilar (Chief of the Colorectal Service and my clinical mentor) and Dr. Sawyers (Chairman of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program and my research mentor).

Alumni Profile: William Oldham, M.D. Ph.D.

Abin Abraham (M2)
February 21, 2017
Posted in Alumni Profiles

I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I chose the Vanderbilt MSTP because of the atmosphere of collegiality and the reputation of the Pharmacology Department. I completed my graduate research with Dr. Heidi Hamm studying the mechanisms of receptor-mediated G protein activation. As an M3, I enjoyed internal medicine and was particularly drawn to the physiology and care of critically ill patients. I joined the medicine residency program at MGH followed by subspecialty training in the Harvard Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship via the ABIM research pathway. During clinical training, I developed an interest in pulmonary vascular disease and joined Dr. Joseph Loscalzo’s laboratory for my post-doctoral research. I completed fellowship in June 2015 and continue to study pulmonary vascular cell metabolism and bioenergetics at the bench, attend six weeks per year on the inpatient pulmonary vascular disease service, and see outpatients with unexplained dyspnea every other week as a faculty member in the pulmonary division at BWH. I was recently awarded a Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08) and am developing my own research program.

Alumni Profile: John Erickson, M.D. Ph.D.

Posted in Alumni Profiles

I attended college at Case Western Reserve University, majored in Biology, and studied mechanisms of Plasmodium falciparum drug resistance in the laboratory of Peter Zimmerman. At Vanderbilt, under the mentorship of John V. Williams, I studied the cytotoxic T lymphocyte response to viral lower respiratory tract infections (e.g. bronchiolitis), in particular the cell surface receptors that modulate T cell functions. I found that Programmed Death-1 (PD-1) was highly expressed by virus-specific lung T cells during infection and functioned to decrease their cytokine production, ultimately leading to increased viral replication and disease burden. I am currently a pediatrics resident at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I am participating in the Accelerated Research Pathway leading to a fellowship in Neonatology. I hope to continue to study immune regulation during neonatal infections during fellowship.

Alumni Profile: M. Indriati Hood-Pishchany, M.D. Ph.D.

Posted in Alumni Profiles

Dr. Indriati Hood-Pishchany graduated from the Vanderbilt MSTP in 2014 and went on to complete residency training in Pediatrics in the Boston Combined Residency Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center. She participated in the Accelerated Research Pathway, completing residency in 2016. She is currently a first year Infectious Diseases Fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her graduate research focused on mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and pathogenesis of Acinetobacter baumannii and she completed her research in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Skaar. She is a fellow in the Pediatric Scientist Development Program, and her fellowship research will investigate the role for female reproductive tract microbiota in pregnancy outcomes.

Alumni Profile: Erik Musiek, M.D., Ph.D.

Posted in Alumni Profiles

Dr. Musiek entered the Vanderbilt MSTP in 2000 and completed his thesis work in the lab of the late Dr. Jason Morrow, with Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin in Neurology as a co-mentor.  He worked on mechanisms linking oxidative stress and neurodegeneration.  He is currently an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.