Why Medical Students Need To Understand Statistics: An Interview With a Patho-Geneticist

Dr. Mary Jean M. has spent the last decade researching in various laboratories, from plant sciences, developmental biology, immunology, cancer biology, and parasitology. She is a patho-geneticist and loves every facet of infectious disease research and biostatistics, from understanding the population dynamic of life to the intricacies of the microscopic world. 

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Getting In: The Undergraduate’s Guide to Research Experience

getting in

Undergraduate students do not need told, again, how important it is to be involved in numerous activities: academics, extracurriculars, employment, research, job shadowing, internships, and social life. Students who are pursuing a career in a science or healthcare field (particularly those with aspirations for graduate school) may find even more intense pressure than their peers. This pressure – to check a box in each “category” above and to succeed at all of them – can be quite overwhelming, especially for students who don’t have any experience in one area or another. One of the most common areas with which students struggle is research. Many prehealth students understand that research should be part of their application, but do not know how to get started, or even what “research experience” means. If this sounds like you, check out Getting In: The Undergraduate’s Guide to Research Experience by David Oppenheimer and Paris Grey.

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Q&A with Maxine Mackintosh, Health Data Scientist

Maxine Mackintosh (BSc MSc) is a PhD student in data science at University College London, exploring data science as a new approach to dementia research. She is also cofounder of One HealthTech (previously HealthTech Women), a network of 11,000 that supports and promotes women and other underrepresented groups in health tech and innovation in the UK.

She is involved in a number of side projects across Big Pharma, public sector, third sector and other communities and initiatives, such as the Roche, the British Computer Society, Alzheimer’s Society and the World Economic Forum.

Ms. Mackintosh obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences with a focus on neuroscience and pharmacology at University College London (2011-2014), before receiving a Master of Science (MSc) from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2014-2015) in health economics and financing, where she carried out research for her thesis on the role of Academic Health Science Networks in health innovation.

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A Med Student’s Guide to Becoming a Physician-Scientist

physician scientist

When medical students start to think about areas of practice to specialize in once they graduate, the area of medical research can sometimes be overlooked in favor of more traditional practice areas such as internal medicine or surgery. However, for some doctors-to-be, the pull towards such research is strong and it is an important part of the healthcare system, as the discoveries that such scientists make can have an impact on techniques used to improve patient care and outcomes.
This article covers the work and scope of physician-scientists as well as educational pathways these professionals pursue in order to undertake their important work.

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4 Strategies for Students Reapplying to Medical School

reapplying to medical school

In an ideal world, your first attempt at applying to medical school would also be your last. You would apply, receive several interview invitations, and at least one acceptance letter.
However, for many medical school hopefuls, applying to medical school does not result in an acceptance, and as the rejection letters pile up, it can be difficult to determine how to regroup for another application cycle. Ostensibly, you submitted the best application that you could, so how can you improve in the future? What was that original application lacking?

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From "Book Rat" to Neurologist: An Interview with José Cavazos, MD-PhD

As a child, José Cavazos, MD-PhD, was a self-proclaimed “book rat”. So, it makes sense that his career path was clear after reading a book.
“I stumbled into the literary work—meaning the autobiography—of Don Santiago Ramón y Cajal. He’s a Nobel laureate, the discoverer of the neuron, from Spain,” said Cavazos, speaking to SDN at the 2016 UC Davis Pre-Health Conference. “And, you know, [his work was] the beginning of what excited me to become a neuroscientist, and eventually, a neurologist and a clinician scientist.”

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20 Questions: Brian Baxter, PhD

Brian Baxter

Brian Baxter, PhD, is a current postdoctoral scholar with the DeRisi Group at University of California, San Francisco (2011-present), where he is working to optically encode polymer microbeads containing rare-earth nanophosphors and produce them using an automated microfluidic device. Baxter received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at University of California Davis (summa cum laude, 1994). He went on to receive his PhD in organic chemistry from University of California Berkeley (2000). During his studies at UC Davis, Baxter was an undergraduate research assistant on a project involving the synthesis of novel porphyrins for photodynamic therapy applications. While at Berkeley, Baxter worked on a project sequencing the Anabaena Genome. His graduate research and thesis involved a modular approach to chiral liquid-crystalline diacrylates using a natural product as the chiral unit.

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The One Letter to Rule Them All

letter of recommendation

As an undergrad, one of the reasons you devoted so much time to a research experience was to earn an epic letter of recommendation–one that speaks to your strengths, resilience, character, self-reliance, cultural competencies, ability to solve problems, and contribute to a group effort. This letter will be a comprehensive endorsement of your medical school application complete with specific examples that influenced your PI’s opinion. This one letter has the potential to outweigh all other letters from a professor whose class you attended, or from someone who oversaw a volunteer program you participated in for a semester.

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Spring Break: Should You Spend It On The Beach Or At The Bench?

spring break

For most researchers, working in the lab over a holiday break is somewhat different from working in the lab during the rest of the year. For example, if an experiment has flexibly, it can be started or stopped when it’s convenient for the researcher instead of planned around seminars, classes, and campus parking issues. In addition, some researchers take a vacation, adopt unconventional work hours, or hide in their office to work on a manuscript and only visit the lab to search for inspiration, a snack, or a temporary distraction.
I regularly direct several undergrad projects at the same time, work with other members of my lab team, and pursue my own research projects. And even though I enjoy mentoring my students, the researcher in me wants to take full advantage of holiday breaks. For me, a holiday break is an opportunity to set my work schedule as I please or conquer a particularly difficult experiment without being interrupted much. Alternatively, I might start an experiment, or run out to do errands and share a meal with friends, only to return to the lab when it’s convenient for me. I also want to spend some time relaxing—perhaps on my couch playing Halo—because I benefit from taking a break from directing other’s projects and thinking about how to solve a labmate’s bench woe.

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Why Some Labs Don’t Train Premed Students and Why You Shouldn’t Care

So far, the vast majority of the undergrads I’ve trained during my research career have been premed students. With the numerous personal and professional advantages an in-depth research experience can provide, and how a successful research experience can support a medical school application, that is unlikely to change.
Most students prove to be an asset to my research team. They are motivated, dedicated, step up to extra responsibility without hesitation, and are helpful to their labmates. These are the undergrads who arrive at lab ready to work, ready to contribute, and ready to learn everything anyone is willing to teach them. These undergrads find the self-discipline to push through disappointment at the research bench, and like to be challenged—whether through learning a new technique, designing an experimental strategy, or interpreting data. They serve as ambassadors for their research and university at scientific meetings, present their projects at symposia, and occasionally, if all the stars align, earn coauthorship on a publication.

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Choose Your Undergrad Research Position Wisely

choose your undergrad research

Author’s Note: It is widely believed (and for good reason) that undergraduate research positions are highly competitive. This belief leads to the misconception that obtaining any research position is the goal.My experience with undergraduate research position applicants has taught me that having a genuine interest in the position is one of the most important tips that I can give potential undergraduate researchers. This importance is echoed by numerous colleagues I’ve spoken with on the subject over the years, and those interviewed while writing Getting In.

The misconception that any research position will do can also have lasting negative effects on the success the student has once they are in the position. Over the years I have found that students instinctively know whether they are interested in a potential position before they apply for it. Those students who take any position just to be done with the search end up in disappointing experiences, which can affect how enthusiastic their letter of recommendation is at the end.

This article provides undergraduates with a new way of approaching their search for a research position by explaining why the choices they make at the application stage are so important for getting an interview and for their success in the lab afterwards. It’s relevant because it focuses on a topic that is almost never mentioned in the mainstream advice on how to find a research position.

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Seize Your Undergrad Research Interview: Ask the Questions That Matter

When selecting your classes each semester you apply a methodical approach. You no doubt consider several factors such as: What will satisfy major requirements? What will help you prepare for the MCAT and add weight to your transcript? And, of course, what sounds the most interesting? Essentially, you don’t play “registration roulette” and find yourself in advanced string theory when you really need a cell biology course.
Yet, when it comes to an undergrad research interview, most students don’t know that they need a solid strategy for asking questions that will allow them to evaluate the position. Instead, many approach interviews with a single goal in mind: get an offer to join the lab. Although this is a good goal keep in mind, it should not be your sole objective in a research interview.

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Difficult Interview Questions: Learning To Hit A Curveball Out Of The Park

difficult interview questions

By Michelle Finkel, MD with CrispyDoc

You put your heart and soul into your compelling, charismatic personal statement; you showcased your accomplishments and drive to succeed in your activities section; and you demonstrated the endorsement of respected faculty allies in your letters of recommendation. Now your hard work has paid off and helped you get a foot in the door: You’ve been invited to interview at your dream medical school or residency program.

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10 Things to Expect Your First Semester of Research

Even if you have previous lab experience from a high school or college lab class, the first few weeks of a new research experience in a professional research lab will have its challenges, surprises, and probably be quite different from you expect. It might take a few weeks before you feel at home in the lab, but it will happen if you stick with it and commit to learning everything you can about your research project. To help you prepare for your new adventure, here are some things that await most undergraduates at the start of a new research experience.

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The F-Word: Your Reaction to Failure in a Lab Matters More Than You Know

There is only one guarantee in research: sometimes things fail. It doesn’t matter what your major is, how much experience you have, or whether your research is basic, applied, clinical, or translational. A research project will test your reliance, discipline, motivation, and, at times, it might make you feel like giving up. However, when your project hits a wall (and most do at some point), how you handle the disappointment is the key to your future success. Your reaction will also influence your labmates and how much help they will offer to get you back on track.
Unfortunately, some undergrads let their frustration get the better of them when faced with failure in the lab. Not only does this make their experience less rewarding, but it’s unpleasant for the other lab members, and that can lead to unintended consequences for the undergrad.

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10 Things to Expect From Your Summer Undergrad Research Experience

For some undergrads, this summer will be spent lounging on the beach reading and hanging out with friends. Days will be spent blissfully sleeping until a parent annoyingly insists that it’s time to get up and do something.But alas that’s not for you.

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5 Steps to Preparing for Your Medical School Interviews

After obsessively checking your email every five minutes for weeks, the appearance of your first interview offer brings with it a flood of relief and excitement. All that studying, volunteering, and writing of countless secondary applications has earned you a coveted interview slot. Yet coming on the tail of such excitement is that sense of panic. What now?

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