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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Where Are They Now?

Erica Hlavin Bell, BMB graduate 2010, PhD program

Erica Hlavin BellErica completed BMB’s PhD program in 2010. She completed her doctoral project in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Miller and focused on studying the mechanisms involved in the repair of DNA interstrand cross-links, lesions that are created by environmental and some cancer chemotherapeutic agents. Her next career step took her back to her home state of Ohio with her husband Caleb. Erica immediately secured a fantastic position as a research assistant professor and Barbara Hughes Fellow in the Department of Radiation Oncology at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, James Cancer Hospital.

“Cancer research has always been an intriguing field to me for both intellectual and personal reasons”, Erica says. She describes her position as managing multiple research projects, publishing scientific manuscripts, presenting research at national and international conferences, and teaching lectures on topics that pertain to her research. The goal of her research is to detect novel tumor biomarkers that correlate with treatment efficacy and survival. Knowing that the research she is doing could significantly impact the lifespan and quality of life of cancer patients is, in Erica's view, the most rewarding part of her job.      

Michael Hauser, BMB Graduate 1991, PhD Program

Michael HauserDr. Hauser completed the BMB Ph.D. program in 1991.Under the tutelage of the late Dr. John Scocca, Hauser worked on substrate requirements in site-specific recombination as a doctoral student in the department. He continued his training with a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan and followed with a faculty position at Duke University Medical Center.

Dr. Hauser currently is an Associate Professor in the Duke Center for Human Genetics. His work there includes the investigation of the genetic basis of various diseases, with a primary focus on glaucoma. Dr. Hauser is co-principal investigator of the recently completed NEI Glaucoma Human genetics collaBORation (NEIGHBOR), which performed a genome-wide association study of more than 5500 Caucasian glaucoma cases and controls. Dr. Hauser is also using whole exome sequencing to identify mutations leading to muscular dystrophy, and has recently completed a genetic study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Genetic variants identified through these studies are being functionally analysed in zebrafish and other model systems.

Sara Beese, BMB Graduate 2012, PhD Program

Sara Beese“I am currently a postdoc in Dr. Monica Colaiacovo’s lab in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, where I am studying the role of histone demethylases in meiosis using C. elegans as a model system. Our laboratory has found that a group of these proteins are important for proper maintenance of the germline in this model organism. I am working to develop a mechanistic understanding of the way histone methylation orchestrates crucially important chromosomal events during meiosis.”

Sara adds: “The mechanistic insight gained from this work is likely to be conserved in humans due to the considerable homology shared between the biological processes of C. elegans and mammals. BMB’s supportive and collegiate atmosphere, its wealth of scientific resources, and the structure of its graduate program helped me develop my skills as a critical thinker and scientist and prepared me well for postdoctoral training.”

Neil B. Shah, BMB Graduate 2008, MHS Program

Neil B. Shah“After JHU, I went back home for medical school where I attended the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine/Midwestern University. My master's work at Johns Hopkins was the hot topic of conversion at all my interviews and I feel that my master's work really helped distinguish me from other medical school applicants. While in medical school, BMB helped lay the foundation from which I was able to build success. At BMB I took classes like biochemistry, endocrinology, and reproductive biology which helped tremendously during medical school and the USMLE/COMLEX step 1 board exam. Looking back, I feel so blessed to have gone to school at Hopkins. I have made many amazing friends who I still keep in contact with four years later. I recently started a residency in Chicago in the field of Emergency Medicine and I recently got engaged to my college sweetheart who is a Radiology Resident. We are looking forward to our wedding next year!”

Mona Rezapour, BMB Graduate 2008, MHS Program

Mona Rezapour"My path to become a physician has been an arduous journey. I started the BMB masters program in 2006 because of a curiosity in public health that I had only partially explored during my undergraduate education. I never expected to finish the program with an immense understanding of the urgent public health issues that we face both domestically and internationally, being better prepared to enter the medical field, having a better understanding of the role I wanted to play in medicine and, most importantly, having lifelong mentors that have played a crucial role in my path to becoming a physician. After finishing my masters in Reproductive and Cancer Biology in the BMB department, I entered the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2008. I was involved in HIV/AIDS research and traveled to Nepal and Bangladesh during medical school to work in community hospitals. I just started my residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Southern California and hope to continue into a fellowship program in Gastroenterology. My dream is that my future work in medicine involves working in marginalized communities where resources are limited, whether it’s here at home or internationally."