Mentor: H. Daniel Lacorazza, Ph.D.
Undergraduate major: Engineering
Undergraduate school: Swarthmore College
Research Interests: Pathobiology and Treatment of Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia; Pharmacological targeting of pathways activated by loss of KLF4; Investigating epigenetic landscape of T-ALL for a role in leukemia-initiating cells
Shen Y, Chen TJ, Lacorazza HD. Novel tumor-suppressor function of KLF4 in pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Exp Hematol. 2017 Sep; 53:16-25. doi: 10.1016/j.exphem.2017.04.009. Epub 2017 May 4. Review. PubMed PMID: 28479419; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5568468.
What is Your Research Interest?
My thesis research, as a mentee of Dr. Daniel Lacorazza, is focused upon the pathobiology and treatment of pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Specifically, my project investigates the regulation and targeting of leukemia-initiating cells in T-ALL. My research strategy incorporates in vitro work with T-ALL cell lines as well as in vivo work using a NOTCH1-induced T-ALL mouse model and patient-derived xenografts.
Why Did You Choose Your Mentor?
I chose Dr. Daniel Lacorazza as my mentor in order to grow as a researcher and a person. During my rotation, I experienced how his mentorship and leadership motivates every lab member to ask questions and push themselves. I decided that this environment would maximize my growth as both a scientist and a mentor.
What Aspects of Training Has Been Most Influential in Preparing For Your Intended Career?
My training at BCM has encouraged the development of a broad and adaptable scientific skill set. One of the overarching themes at BCM has been developing the ability to ask provoking questions and to search for novel answers. My personal career trajectory was encouraged through my projects featuring anti-leukemic properties of kinase inhibitors.
Did Baylor's Location in the Texas Medical Center Enhance Your Experience?
Baylor’s location in the Texas Medical Center encourages and facilitates relationships with a network of hospitals. My work studying pediatric leukemia benefits greatly from our affiliation with Texas Children’s Hospital through membership on my thesis committee as well as access to clinical samples.
What Are Your Career Plans?
I am intrigued and motivated by discovering and perfecting clinical therapies. Following BCM, my ideal career would involve pharmaceutical research and development.
What Do You Enjoy About Living in Houston?
Houston is an incredibly diverse city with a multitude of ethnicities. One of my personal hobbies is sampling the variety of foods that exist within the city. As a city, Houston represents countless opportunities for new experiences, a great way to build friendships with amongst graduate students. Outside of the lab, I am often practicing with my tennis team out of Memorial Park which placed 3rd at Nationals last year.
What Advice Do You Have for Prospective Students?
My advice is to find a program and environment that will enable you to grow in multiple ways, more than just as a researcher. For me, BCM was an excellent fit for my personality as I strive to mature as a scientist and mentor. When you get to grad school, do your best to maintain a sustainable work-life balance and find outlets and hobbies outside of the lab.