Northwestern MSTP News


         Fall 2015
In this edition:

Calendar at a Glance 
Program News and Reminders             
Student Council Update

Student Highlight
Alumni Feature
PRISM Update 
Northwestern News                          
Calendar at a Glance
October 8, 2015. 4-6pm. PSTP Fall Kick-Off Event at D4 Irish Pub and Grill.

October 16, 2015. Noon. MSTP Coffee Talk - Middle Ground or No-Mans Land?. McGaw Pavillion, Room 1-401.
RSVP to Emily by October 12!

October 30, 2015. Noon. MSTP Faculty Blitz Talks. Rubloff 11th Floor Lakeview Conference Room.

November 03, 2015. 5:00 PM.  MSTP Dean's Reception with Dean Neilson. Method Atrium.
RSVP by October 26!

November 09, 2015. 4:00 PM. Diverse Perspectives of Physician Scientists (DPPS) featuring  keynote speaker
William McDade, MD, PhD. Reception with food and drink follow. Searle Auditorium, Lurie Bldg.  RSVP asap!

December 11, 2015. Noon. MSTP Faculty Blitz Talks. Rubloff 11th Floor Lakeview Conference Room.

Interview Week Schedule 2015-16
October 28-29, 2015.       MSTP Interview Week 1      
November 18-19, 2015.   MSTP Interview Week 2
December 9-10, 2015.     MSTP Interview Week 3
January 13-14 2016.        MSTP Interview Week 4  
February 3-4, 2016.         MSTP Interview Week 5

Grand Rounds Schedule for 2015-2016 Please make note of the remaining Grand Rounds dates for the year and refer to the syllabus for attendance policies.
October 28, 2015. MSTP Grand Rounds. Hughes Auditorium. Presenters: Lauren Smith and Kyle Lyman
November 18, 2015. MSTP Grand Rounds. Wieboldt Hall Room 540. Presenters: Laura Moore and Warren McGee
December 9, 2015. MSTP Grand Rounds. Wieboldt Hall Room 540. Presenters: Marisa Jackson and Daniel Fisher
January 13, 2016. MSTP Grand Rounds. Wieboldt Hall Room 540. Presenters: Dipal Patel and Douglas Wilcox
February 3, 2016. MSTP Grand Rounds. Wieboldt Hall Room 540. Presenters: Keith Summa and Sherry Lee.
March 16, 2016. MSTP Grand Rounds. Hughes Auditorium. Presenters: Abbye McEwen and Alok Swaroop
April 13, 2016. MSTP Grand Rounds. Hughes Auditorium. Presenters: Taylor Poor and Kathleen Bickel
May 4, 2016. MSTP Grand Rounds. Hughes Auditorium. Presenters: Woon Teck Yap and Jonathan Bell
May 25, 2016. MSTP Grand Rounds. Hughes Auditorium. Presenters: Richard Watson and Kaleigh Roberts

Program News and Reminders

Student Accolades

Congratulations to our latest fellowship awardees!

Danny Fisher (Dane Chetkovich Lab, Neurology) was awarded an NIH NRSA F30 from the National Institute of Mental Health.
Brian Soetikno, (Hao Zhang Lab, Biomedical Engineering) was awarded an NIH NRSA F30 from the National Eye Institute.
Anna Toth (Murali Prakriya Lab, Neurology) was awarded the Julius B. Khan Jr. Memorial Fellowship.

Share Your News! We are very lucky to have such a talented group of students and we'd love to share your publications and awards with your peers. Please let us know right away if you have any new publications or awards.


Student Activity Fee Reminder.   Please remember to check your student account and pay your Student Activity Fee for either the medical school (yearly) or the Graduate School (quarterly) in a timely manner to avoid late fees imposed by the office of Student Accounts.

The MSTP T32 Grant Renewal is in full swing! The completed application is due January, 2016. Thank you all for sending in your CVs and answering our short survey. In addition to the fantastic student response, we had a very successful response from alumni and it was great to hear from so many of our graduates.  We're excited to share with the NIH the growth and successes of our program over the last several years!

As a reminder, the MSTP Travel Grants are available to any MSTP student to support attendance of courses or conferences that will advance their scientific career. The student must be presenting data or have been selected in a competitive application process. MSTP travel grants are typically for up to $500 and are limited to once per year. For conferences or courses with significant financial burden, such as presenting data abroad, additional funding may be available. Contact the office for an application.

The next NRSA application deadline is December 8th. Please let the MSTP Office know if you are planning to apply for an F30 or F31 for the December deadline.
Individual Predoctoral NRSA for MD/PhD Fellowships to Promote Diversity in Health Related Research (PA-14-148)

Individual Predoctoral NRSA for PhD Fellowships (Parent F31) (PA-14-147)l

Additional Fellowship Opportunities are listed below by impending deadline including the AHA, Hertz, Soros and Presidential Fellowships. MSTP students have been successful in the past at each of these opportunities and we encourage anyone who is eligible to apply.
Hertz Foundation Fellowship
  October 30th, 2015   1st year graduate students
Soros Fellowship for New Americans
  November 1, 2015   1st and 2nd year graduate students
AAUW American Fellowship   November 15, 2015  Women scholars who are completing  dissertations
  or preparing research for publication
Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships   November 20, 2015   2nd year med or 1st year graduate students
The Presidential Fellowship   November 30, 2015   Graduate students by program nomination
National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship   December 18, 2015   1st and 2nd year graduate students
Dr. John N. Nicholson Fellowship   January 8, 2016   Graduate students by program nomination
American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship   January 13, 2016   Students in cardiovascular and stroke research

Student Council Update

Group photo from the 2015 MSTP Student-Faculty Retreat at Lake Lawn Resort, Lake Delavan, Wisconsin.

Welcome to another exciting year at Northwestern future physician-scientists!  We hope you’ve had a great summer and are ready for the autumn season!  The MSTP Student Council recently held elections for the new leadership of the 2015-2016 academic year and we would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves.  Maxwell Edmonds, a G1 in the laboratory of Teresa Woodruff PhD was elected President, and Frank Barrows, a G1 in the laboratory of Amanda Petford-Long PhD, was elected Vice President.  We are both excited and looking forward to another great year!
The summer season has been an exciting time for the MSTP Student Council and Program.  To start off, the MSTP Entering Class of 2015, (12 students total) began this past July and have already taken their first exam.  The 2015 MSTP Summer Retreat was held for the first time in Lake Lawn Resort in Lake Delevan, Wisconsin and was a great success!  The weekend was filled with fun activities (soccer, volleyball, kayaking, Frisbee, trivia, etc) and our invited speakers, both alumni of our program, were outstanding.  The keynote address was given by Dr. José Florez MD, PhD an endocrinologist and investigator at Harvard Medical School, and a career-oriented talk by Dr. José Otero MD,PhD, an assistant professor of neuropathology at The Ohio State University. 
The fall quarter is already in full swing for the MSTP Student Council.   The MSTP Big Sibs Program has partnered each M1 with a graduate-phase student, and Stan’s donuts gift cards have been provided to “sweeten” the partnership.  Grand Rounds has been revamped, according to the reviews and suggestions of the student body, and now includes a group session to discuss the assigned case before each lecture.  Please share your thoughts and opinions on the new format at the next student council meeting!  The MSTP student-run mentoring program Promoting Inner-City Youth in Science and Medicine (PRISM) at the Pedersen-McCormick Boys and Girls Club in Uptown has begun another year, and will be introducing a couple new lesson plans to their curriculum.
Northwestern’s MSTP External Review just took place in the MSTP office, and the admissions season is fast approaching with the first Interview Week set to begin the week of October 28th.  In addition to all of this, Diverse Perspectives of Physician Scientists (DPPS) will have the first lecture in their series on November 9th, with keynote speaker William McDade MD, PhD, an associate professor of anesthesia and critical care at University of Chicago.  Look ahead for a further email with more details closer to that date.  Other events will include Chicago inter-MSTP program events that are currently being planned, and an upcoming coffee talk in December, with one goal being to discuss the new Grand Rounds curriculum and format.  Some future initiatives in the works include an applicant data committee to evaluate graduate career outcomes, and a Northwestern MSTP Wiki page to help pass down knowledge and helpful tips/advice from more advanced to new students in the program. 
As always, we invite all interested students to attend and join the MSTP Student council and help us create programming that will benefit every student in our program.  We encourage everyone to use the Student Council and the online Student Handbook for any questions about the program as we begin our new year.
Happy Autumn Everyone!
Maxwell Edmonds, President
Frank Barrows, Vice President

Student Highlight

Sherry Lee, Grad Year 4

Sherry was born in China and moved to the United States right before fourth grade. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington where she began developing a passion for biomedical research and cats. She is now a third year graduate student at Northwestern and a full-fledged crazy cat lady. While she is working on her thesis project, she is also trying to uncover the answer to a complex scientific question—is the fluffiness of a cat correlated with its fear of rats? Speaking of rats, she adopted two beautiful albino girls (one is featured in the photo) from the animal facility here at Northwestern and thoroughly enjoys giving them shoulder rides.                                              
sherry lee
Fun facts about Sherry:

Favorite neighborhood in Chicago: Lakeview (home sweet home) 

Favorite restaurant in Chicago: Green Zebra
Favorite deep dish pizzeria: Lou Malnati's

Favorite Chicago athletic team: Blackhawks

Favorite warm-weather activity in Chicago: kayaking on the Chicago River

Favorite cold-weather activity in Chicago: snuggling with my cats

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Alumni Feature

Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD

Dr. Schlegel

Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD, is the Oscar B. Hunter Chair of Pathology and an expert in human papillomaviruses (HPV) and cervical cancer. Dr. Schlegel received his MD and PhD degrees from Northwestern University Medical School, and was a resident and postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School (Brigham Hospital) in the fields of Pathology and Virology. He moved to the National Institutes of Health in 1980 where he continued his viral oncology studies and became the Chief of the Cell Regulation Section in the Laboratory of Tumor Virus Biology. In 1990 he moved from NIH to Georgetown University Medical Center to join forces with immunology and pathology experts who were researching the connection between cervical cancer and HPV. His laboratory used molecular and cell biology assays to define the genes required for HPV-mediated cell immortalization and he co-developed the technology for the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV causes nearly all cervical cancers and contributes to many other human cancers including those of anal, oral and skin origin. On June 8, 2006 the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine, called Gardasil, and recommended it for women between the ages of nine and 26. The CDC and pediatric medical associations now recommend it for boys as well as girls. He has published more than 150 papers on viral oncology, served on the editorial board of the journal Virology, has been a permanent member of the NIH Virology study section, and is now a member of the College of CSR Reviewers. In addition, Dr. Schlegel has received Georgetown’s Presidents Award, Vicennial Award, and Patrick Healy Award and has patented several technologies related to HPV diagnostics and prevention. Today, Dr. Schlegel’s laboratory is focused on a new cell biology technique that his laboratory developed which allows the rapid establishment of normal and tumor cell cultures from cancer patients. This technology, termed conditional reprogramming, has multiple applications for basic science and medicine. The technology has spawned a new Center at Georgetown University (the Center for Cell Reprogramming) which Dr. Schlegel directs and which is focused on the understanding and application of stem cell biology.  In addition, the cell technology was the basis for the formation of a new biotechnology company, Propagenix, which focuses on diagnostic and regenerative medicine applications.  

We were excited to catch up with Dr. Schlegel via email and ask him a few questions.

What has been one of the most rewarding experiences you have had as a physician-scientist?  I think that the most unexpected and rewarding aspect of my career has been the successful translation of our basic research findings into clinical medicine.  While my research initially focused on understanding how the HPV oncogenes can initiate cancer, we later utilized our expertise in cell and molecular biology, in collaboration with immunologist Bennett Jenson at Georgetown, to develop a method to make the "shell" protein of HPV in a form that mimicked the intact virus.  This finding allowed us to generate a vaccine that could completely prevent papillomavirus mucosal infections (such as those in the cervix).  This technology was then licensed to commercial companies for the development of the current Merck and GlaxoSmithKline HPV vaccines.  Knowing that these vaccines have the potential to prevent more than 250,000 deaths worldwide each year and that these deaths occur in countries with low medical resources is extremely satisfying.

What is your favorite part of your current position?  I still get the biggest "kicks" from generating new ideas and from the daily interactions with students and researchers in my laboratory.  There is never a boring day---despite the occasional tedium of seeking funding from the restricted NIH budget.

One thing that comes up a lot with our current students is finding a way to balance – both research and medicine and then professional with personal life.  How have you managed to find balance and/or do you have any advice in this area?  For me, I had to simplify my goals.  While I originally wanted to combine clinical pathology with research, I found that establishing an independent research program required most of my time.  So most of my effort was committed to research, with a minor clinical component.  Eventually the clinical component was replaced by the duties of department chair.  If an MD/PhD wanted to be successful in both clinical and research endeavors simultaneously, it would most likely require that the research component be a collaborative effort with full time researchers.

How do you feel your training as an MSTP helped prepare you for your professional life?  I don't think that I would have pursued translational research projects without the breadth of knowledge supplied by the combined program.  In addition, the spectrum of experiences in the MD phase of my training allowed me to enter new research domains without feeling "out of my comfort zone".  

Do you have any funny and/or special memories from your time at Northwestern?  I think some of the best memories of the MD/PhD were the discussions and Ratskeller get-togethers with fellow graduate students.  Also, I made close friends with some faculty and to this day my wife and I enjoy getting together yearly with a former professor in the Microbiology Department (Jim Duncan and his wife Sharon).  Maybe the most important outcome of working in the Micro department was meeting my wife!

What insights or advice to you have for current MSTP students?  Don't be afraid of shifting gears and altering career goals.  It is impossible to predict how your future experiences and interactions with colleagues will modify your path.  

What do you like to do outside of your career?  Since most of my day is sedentary, I like to counterbalance that with active sports such as tennis, windsurfing, and hiking/photography.

Thank you so much to Dr. Schlegel!

PRISM Update

It's that time again, MSTP, and PRISM is in full swing! Now in its fourth year at the Uptown Boy's and Girl's Club, the NU MSTP's science and mentoring club (PRISM) has already begun with it's first unit: Metabolic Disease and Chronic Disease Prevention. Split into 5 sessions per unit, the high school students will delve into a clinical case and learn to take a history and physical, learn about the science behind disease in an interactive lab project, and understand the public health impact of chronic disease. The program continues to meet every other Tuesday and is open to all MSTP students year G1 and up. If you are still interested in joining the program, we'd love to have you! Just send an email to

This years PRISM leaders, Paula Lewis de los Angeles and Danny Fisher are pictured here with PRISM participants and MSTP student mentors John Cooper, Maxwell Edmonds, Jacqueline Godbe, Karl Guo, Samuel Harvey, Sri Sharma, David Shapiro and Priscilla Yeung.


Northwestern News and Happenings
Did you hear? Northwestern was recently ranked the 6th most innovative university in the world by Reuters based on patents, research citations and collaboration with industry.

MSTP faculty member and mentor, Dr. Chad Mirkin was recently awarded the inaugural Sackler Prize in Convergence Research from the National Academy of Sciences for his world-leading expertise in nanotechnology research. Congratulations to Dr. Mirkin!

Dr. Mirkin will also co-direct the new Northwestern University Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (Northwestern CCNE) with another MSTP faculty mentor Dr. Leonidas Platanias with the support of a recently awarded $11.7 million grant to improve cancer treatment from the National Cancer Institute.
Construction for the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center has started. Learn more about what will be housed in the new 14-story, 600,000 building and watch a live feed of the construction here!

Feinberg has launched its first crowdfunding project to support research at Northwestern Medicine Alzheimer's Disease Center - CNADC.

Go Cats! The Northwestern football team remains undefeated for the season and has moved up in the rankings to No. 13. Catch them in action as they take on Michigan this weekend or at a remaining game this fall.

© 2015 Northwestern University
Medical Scientist Training Program, 303 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008
Phone: 312-503-5232  Fax: 312.908.5253 E-mail: