Undergrads explore career paths in clinical and translational science

Published July 19, 2017

Undergraduate students participating in summer programs in the health sciences at UB were invited to explore careers in clinical and translational research on June 23.

The annual event at UB’s Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTRC) is sponsored by the UB CTSI Workforce Development core and the following programs:

CLIMB UP (ASPET-SURF, CLIMB PRO, iSEED, CTSI) 

 CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program)

 LSAMP (SUNY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation)

 “This is an annual event we have hosted with the other UB summer programs since 2012,” said CLIMB UP Program Coordinator Liz Marshall. “The goal is to introduce students to the PhD and MD/PhD programs at Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and also to get the students thinking about how and why to choose a graduate school or professional program.”

Some of the students are taking pre-med courses but many are interested in pursuing PhDs in the biomedical sciences or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, she said.

“This year CLIMB UP is hosting four undergraduate students who are mentored in clinical and translational research by the KL2 and CTSI Scholars,” said Margarita L. Dubocovich, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion, and director of the CTSI’s Workforce Development core. “The students are expressing increasing interest in clinical and translational science, and alumni are acknowledging the positive impact of the CLIMB UP program in their career choices.”

The agenda for Graduate and Professional Careers in Clinical and Translational Research consisted of presentations by Dubocovich and two CTSI Scholars (Umesh Sharma, MD, PhD, and Jason Muhitch, PhD) who discussed their educational and career pathways. A poster session featuring eight of the UB CTSI cores was held during lunch. Students were also offered tours of the Clinical and Translational Research Center’s facilities by CTRC Research Facilities Manager Terry-Ann Smith, MS.

Rajendram V. Rajnarayanan, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology and associate director of CLIMB UP, and Suzanne Laychock, PhD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs and facilities and the admissions director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD), discussed planning a curriculum and the admissions process.

A panel session with current PhD and MD/PhD students Anthony Jones, Chelsey Reed, Spencer Rosario and Jena Walczyk closed out the program with a lively dialogue about the importance of choosing a good mentor and remaining open to unexpected opportunities in one’s course of study.

About 60 students attended the half-day program.

“Holding an event like this at the CTRC is an excellent recruiting tool for us, plus a terrific way for our students to interact with students from other programs,” said Marshall. “Most (of the students) are located at the South or North campuses and don’t have the opportunity to visit the pristine, state-of-the-art facilities at the Medical Campus.”