Director’s Note

By Margaret Baron, MD, PhD

Director's note Fall 2015

On behalf of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, I would like to officially welcome the 13 MD/PhD students in the Matriculating Class of 2015, whose names, undergraduate institutions, and tentative Multidisciplinary Training Areas (MTA) are listed below in this Newsletter. They are a talented and energetic group! This past summer, I and my two Associate Directors, Ben Chen and Talia Swartz, had a wonderful time interacting with the new students in the course Problem Solving in Biomedical Sciences. They are now immersed in their first medical school course, STRUCTURES, while the 10 students who will be graduating in May 2016 are about to begin applying for residencies. My own milestone is that I am about to enter my ninth month as the new Director of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP); it has been a whirlwind, a privilege, and a pleasure. I thank our students for their enthusiastic welcome and for giving so generously of their time in planning and organizing the highly successful Revisit event in April, the upcoming Retreat in October, and for discussions about program iniatives. Read more

Mount Sinai Students Attend Keystone Conference

Keystone ImageFrom July 17th to July 19th, the University of Colorado hosted the 30th annual MD/PhD student conference in Keystone. Mount Sinai was well-represented by two 5th year students, Benjamin Laitman and Joseph Scarpa, and Dr. Pamela Sklar, Chief of the Division of Psychiatric Genomics at Mount Sinai, kicked off the weekend with the first keynote speech. The meeting included other premier keynote speakers, including Dr. Bernardo Sabatini (Harvard) and Dr. Elaine Fuchs (Rockefeller), as well as a closing speech by Dr. Robert Califf (FDA Deputy Comissioner). The scientific portions of the conference were complemented by small breakout sessions on career development, residency selection, work-life balance, and the publication process. The weekend also was filled with a number of social events, including an entire morning dedicated hiking, kayaking, or biking in the scenic Keystone area. Perhaps most importantly, it was a wonderful occasion to meet the broader MD/PhD community and make some new friends and colleagues in the process.

Congratulations to Our 2015 MSTP Matriculating Class

Welcome to the new members of the MSTP at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai! These new M1s hail from institutions across the country and are interested in integrating their medical careers with a variety of different scientific pursuits. Please join us in wishing them the best of success in their education.

Name: Kevin Bu

Undergrad: Harvard University

Anticipated MTA: BSP (Biophysics & Systems Pharmacology)




Name: Steven Chen

Undergrad: Cornell University

Anticipated MTAs: CAB (Cancer Biology), DSCB (Developmental and Stem Cell Biology)





Name: Phillip Cohen

Undergrad: University of Rochester

Anticipated MTAs: MIC (Microbiology), IMM (Immunology)




Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.35.08 PMName: Conor Gruber

Undergrad: Cornell University

Anticipated MTAs: IMM, CAB




Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.35.52 PMName: Alexandra Keenan

Undergrad: University of Iowa

Anticipated MTAs: NEU (Neuroscience), DTE (Design, Technology, and Entrepreneurship)




Name: Michael Martini Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.36.28 PM

Undergrad: Middlebury College

Anticipated MTA: BSP




Name: Ryan Neff Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.37.14 PM

Undergrad: Harvard University

Anticipated MTAs: GGS (Genetics and Genomic Sciences), BSP




Name: Sope Oguntuyo Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.37.45 PM

Undergrad: University of Alabama

Anticipated MTAs: GGS, MIC




Name: Temidayo Orederu Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.38.13 PM

Undergrad: Hunter College

Anticipated MTAs: NEU, BSP




Name: Samuel Powell Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.38.40 PM

Undergrad: University of Miami

Anticipated MTAs: NEU, BSP




Name: Jessica Tan Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.39.23 PM

Undergrad: Temple University

Anticipated MTA: IMM




Name: Allen Zheng Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.39.58 PM

Undergrad: University of Pennsylvania

Anticipated MTAs: NEU, BSP




Name: Royce Zhou Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.40.24 PM

Undergrad: Columbia University

Anticipated MTAs: NEU, CAB




Google Life Sciences: Academic Partnerships for MD/PhD students at ISMMS

By Cindy Tian, entering class of 2013Googlex image

This September launched the inaugural year of the ISMMS-Google Life Sciences academic partnership (this team was recently restructured under Google parent company Alphabet, so I’ll just refer to it as the Life Sciences team here). Proposed last spring, this research partnership gives second-year MD/PhD students at Mount Sinai an opportunity to interview for four-year PhD positions with the Life Sciences team. (Third-year MD students may also apply for two-year research fellowships.)  Read more

The MD/PhD Gender Gap

By Jenny Long Diaz (MP3), Rebecca Hamlin (MP4), and Grace Mosley (MS2)

Women made up 38% of MD/PhD students nationwide in 2014, a figure that has plateaued over the past 10 years. In the most recent application cycle, the percentage of female applicants was even lower than that of matriculants. It is easy to speculate that fewer women than men are applying to MD/PhD programs because of the long time commitment or prioritization of work-life balance and family. However, to date no data has been published on women’s actual motivations for choosing another career or program over the MD/PhD track. In addition, researchers have not yet explored the role of mentorship and implicit bias in this gender disparity.  Read more

Biophysics and Systems Pharmacology (BSP): Sinai’s Newest Multidisciplinary Training Area (MTA)

By Sandhya Chandrasekaran (entering class of 2013)

BSP Image 2 of 2

Dr. Eric Sobie

Dr. Marta Filizola

Dr. Marta Filizola

This past spring, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences announced the merge of what were previously Structural-Chemical Biology and Molecular Design (SMD) and Systems Biology of Disease and Therapeutics (SBDT) into the new MTA – Biophysics and Systems Pharmacology (BSP). As per a message from the directors, Eric Sobie and Marta Filizola:

“The primary benefit of this merger, in our opinion, is that it will enable more seamless integration across scales of studies of disease and therapeutics. Expertise of systems-level pathophysiology can now be more easily complemented with molecular level expertise of drug and protein structures, which should enhance training opportunities.”

We spoke with Dr. Filizola to learn more about the impetus for the MTA’s creation, as well as plans for the BSP curriculum and students moving forward.  Read more

Tisch Cancer Institute: the 69th National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center

By David Chiang (entering class of 2009)

Steven Burakoff, MD

Steven Burakoff, MD

This past summer, the Tisch Cancer Institute (TCI) was given the prestigious award of NCI Cancer Center designation, one of 69 cancer centers with this designation in the U.S. The designation, a P30 cancer center support grant, acknowledges TCI’s strength as a center that integrates lab-based science that interfaces with translational research and clinical trials. Sinai joins four other NCI-designated Cancer Centers in New York (Albert Einstein, NYU, Memorial Sloan Kettering, and Columbia). Read more

Specialty spotlight: Plastic Surgery

The ACGME reports multiple paths to plastic surgery specialization including 6-year plastic_specialtyintegrated plastics programs as well as specialized 2-year plastics training programs following completion of residencies in neurological surgery, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, or urology. Plastics subspecialties also include craniofacial and hand surgery. For this spotlight we interviewed Daniel Cho, newly minted MD PhD, and a first-year resident in the University of Washington Plastic Surgery program, training at four University-affiliated hospitals: UW Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, the Seattle VA, and Seattle Children’s Hospital. As with many 6-year integrated programs in Plastics, the UW program curriculum’s first 3 years of training are the same as General Surgery residencies, and the last 3 years are focused on Plastic Surgery. Read more