As a biochemical engineer and an athlete, I find profound motivation in being able to designsolutions to help others overcome debilitating illnesses and injuries to achieve their fullpotential. I am inspired by the dynamic, complex nature of human biology and am drawn torewiring and repurposing living systems for therapeutic use. As a result, I am pursuingadmission to Yale’s Biomedical Engineering PhD program with the goal of researchingstrategies to develop bio-inspired technologies for the targeted delivery of novel therapeuticmodalities or for the development of ex-vivo tissue models.As a sophomore at MIT, I was selected for the 2011 MIT International Genetically EngineeredMachine (iGEM) team, a thirteen-member research team under the direction of Prof. RonWeiss. I was responsible for supporting the design, production, and in vitro characterization ofsynthetic DNA circuits that leveraged existing cellular systems, such as the Notch-Deltapathway, to integrate control over cell-cell signaling, internal logic processing, and cell-celladhesion to achieve autonomous tissue patterns.
I also took on the additional role of identifyingand communicating with corporate sponsors. Through this work, we demonstrated the promiseof manipulating intercellular signaling systems for tissue engineering and were awarded 4th outof 140 teams and best project in the health and medicine track at the 2011 iGEM WorldChampionships. This experience allowed me to leverage my teamwork skills to tackle achallenging, interdisciplinary research project that broadened my technical skillset andcreativity; this equipped me with the ability to work cross-functionally to conduct originalresearch and how to effectively communicate research findings, whether through oralpresentations, posters, or written correspondence. I later applied this to successfully complete aresearch project in the application of genetic engineering to biofuels.My academic research work is complemented by over four years of experience in research anddevelopment in the biotechnology industry at Genentech. After winning the 2011 GenentechMIT Outstanding Junior Award and completing a summer internship at Genentech, I wasselected for their highly competitive, two-year Process Development Rotational Program(PDRP).
As a PDRP associate, I was given independent ownership over four different sixmonthprojects. My first two rotations focused on the technical development of two clinicalmolecules by designing and optimizing a unit process operation. I learned new proteinproduction and characterization techniques and gained insight into the regulatory and technicalchallenges associated with therapeutic development. My work for these rotations was includedin the regulatory filings of each molecule, and allowed me to experience the overwhelming andhumbling elation of being able to work on a product that has significantly impacted the life ofsomeone else, a feeling I want to pursue for the remainder of my career. I also performed tworesearch rotations in the departments of Drug Delivery and Pharmaceutical Development,which resulted in three first-author publications (currently in preparation) and inventorship on aUS patent application. Altogether, my experience in PDRP has helped solidify my desire topursue a research career in biomedical engineering.Since August 2015, my work at Genentech focuses on the design, development, andcharacterization of novel protein engineering approaches to ocular long-acting delivery (LAD)of biologics.
This research requires me to leverage and expand upon basic scientific research and to work interdisciplinary with scientists and clinicians to design technologies that areoptimized for an elderly patient population and for clinical efficacy and safety. I have gained abetter understanding of the technical challenges facing drug delivery, such as the lack ofrepresentative animal models, physical barriers to delivery, biocompatibility, and thecomplexity of disease pathology. I also have a better appreciation for the manufacturing andbusiness considerations for turning a novel, complex therapeutic from a research experiment toa viable, clinical therapeutic.My experiences have solidified my desire to further my career in translational medical researchin drug delivery and tissue engineering by pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering. At Yale,I am particularly interested in conducting research in the Saltzman or Fahmy Lab. My interestin Mark Saltzman’s Lab stems from our shared goal: to create safe, effective, economical, andaccessible medical technologies for disease treatment and prevention.
The biomaterialsresearch his lab conducts fits well with my background in drug delivery and tissue engineeringand marries together these two interests well. I am also interested in Tarek Fahmy’s Labbecause of his use of bio-inspired design for immunotherapy. From my experience in industry,I have seen the powerful therapeutic potential (but also limitations) of immunotherapy andwould be eager to apply my knowledge of drug delivery and biomaterials to develop newimmunotherapy strategies. Both labs’ research fits well with my desire to engineer lifechangingmedical technologies by engaging biological systems and by applying life science andengineering principles.
Ultimately, my long-term professional objective is to combine my interests in pioneering newtechnologies, strategic decision-making, and mentoring new scientists to create a fulfillingcareer. After having seen how genetic engineering has revolutionized fields such as medicineand energy and led to the development of the biotechnology industry, ideally, I’d like to be atthe forefront of discovering and developing the next disruptive medical technology, either as aprofessor or founder of a biotechnology start-up. This is aligned with my purpose of helpingeach person realize her full potential by removing medical (and other) barriers to success.Yale’s Biomedical Engineering PhD program is uniquely positioned to help me achieve thesegoals through the mentorship of the field’s leading scientists, the abundance of interdisciplinarycollaborations, and the breadth of opportunities available to complement research training, suchas the multi-track Advanced Graduate Leadership Program.In closing, my experience in academic research and industry has prepared me for the rigors ofYale’s Biomedical Engineering PhD Program and to be an impactful and successful addition tothe Yale community. Through the completion of a Biomedical Engineering PhD at Yale, I willreceive the training and experience needed to develop a fulfilling career and discover anddevelop the medical technologies that humanity desperately needs.