NIH Logo
Research and Training Opportunities at the National Institutes of Health
Home >

Success Stories > Clinical Research Training Program  >  NIH Academy Program  >  Postbaccalaureate Intramural Research Training Award Program  >  Postdoctoral Program  >  Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research Program  >  Summer Research Fellowship Program  >  Technical Intramural Research Training Award Program  >  Tenure-Track Program  >  
NIH Academy Fellow
Sara Angleman
Quetzalsol Lopez-Chacon
Marc Braunstein
Sara Angleman Photo Sara Angleman

NIH Academy Fellow
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
2nd year NIH Graduate Partnership Program with the University of Cambridge
Hometown: Olney, Maryland

I attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where I graduated magna cum laude and with departmental honors for my degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2000.

My ultimate goal is to use the tools of medicine, public health, and research to alleviate the HIV/AIDS epidemic, both internationally and domestically, as a health disparity. I definitely plan to obtain an MD and am currently applying to medical schools. I also foresee pursuing a Masters in Public Health or a Dr. P.H. (Doctor of Public Health) degree.

I've always been interested in community service and in science. During my undergraduate years, I had the opportunity to perform HIV research with Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Dr. Michael Summers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Working side by side with AIDS researchers alerted me to the global AIDS epidemic. Following graduation, I traveled to India for the summer and participated in HIV education programs for Indian students and in other public health activities.

When I was accepted into the NIH Academy, I knew I wanted to continue to focus my research on HIV. I was matched with preceptor Dr. Michael Lenardo, the section chief for Molecular Development of the Immune System Section in the Laboratory of Immunology. Our lab studies the cytopathicity of each of the HIV-1 viral proteins to elucidate which protein or combination of proteins is necessary for the viral cytopathic effect on T cells.

The lab dynamic is excellent. There are lots of other students (postbaccalaureates, Howard Hughes fellows, summer students), and all the senior members of the lab are always willing to stop and answer questions. It is a comfortable place to learn, to be challenged, and to conduct research.

In addition to working in the lab, the Academy meets one night a week for class. Topics range from career development seminars like 'Medical and Graduate School Admissions' to health disparities research such as 'Sickle-Cell Anemia: The First Molecular Disease.' We also have the chance to present our own research to the other trainees in class.

My favorite NIH Academy experiences have definitely been our community outreach activities. I especially enjoyed the opportunity we had to visit Alice Deal Junior High in D.C. and present health disparities information through skits.

I think the NIH Academy is an ideal way to integrate my interests in medicine, research, and public health.

Up To Top of Page
Quetzalsol Lopez-Chacon Photo Quetzalsol Lopez-Chacon

NIH Academy Fellow
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
B.S. in Psychology, University of Washington
3rd year medical student, Stanford University
Hometown: Federal Way, Washington

I graduated from the University of Washington with my B.S. in psychology in 2000 and have already been accepted to medical school. Summer 2001 I start the Early Matriculation Program at Stanford University. But before beginning medical school, I wanted to learn how to use research to impact my community. I am very interested in health disparities, those conditions that affect certain population groups at higher rates than the majority population, and in using this knowledge to provide medical assistance to underserved populations.

While an undergraduate, I did psychology research on the Native American population. My lab was in the process of creating culturally relevant alcohol prevention programs. We collected data through focus groups. My research was extremely important because in Washington State and on most of the West Coast, there are no suitable alcohol programs for Native Americans.

As a member of the NIH Academy, I'm working with Dr. Harold Gainer, in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He is the Chief of the Laboratory of Neurochemistry and the Director of the Basic Neurosciences Program in the NINDS. Our lab studies the neurochemistry of the brain, specifically dodaminergic and dedtidergic neurons and the elucidation of the mechanisms involved in the establishment and maintenance of a neuronal phenotype.

I live within walking distance of my lab, so I'm able to spend a lot of time there on my research. My apartment was provided and furnished by the NIH Academy. I still pay rent, but it was great to have a place ready for me instead of searching for an apartment and furniture on my own.

In my free time, I like to hang out with the other NIH Academy trainees (we all live in the same building), bike around town and see the D.C. sites, play basketball at the Naval Hospital, and enjoy all the restaurants in Bethesda. I just found the best place for sushi.

A few months into the NIH Academy program, I realized that this was the best thing I could have done with my year before medical school. I've acquired basic research experience, learned more about health disparities, organized an NIH Hispanic Health Fair, presented my work at a poster session, planned activities for pre-IRTAs as a member of the Pre-IRTA Committee, traveled across the East Coast, and had the chance to explore the nation's capitol.

Up To Top of Page
Marc Braunstein Photo Marc Braunstein

NIH Academy Fellow
Honors B.S. in Biology, CUNY Brooklyn College
2nd year medical student, SUNY Downstate
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

I realize now at the end of a wonderful year that I have been fortunate to spend this time among truly remarkable people. It seems as though it was just yesterday when Dr. Drew called me and told me about being accepted into the Academy. After rejoicing at the news, the reality began to set in that I would be working alongside scientists who had many more years of experience than did I. Dr. Drew and my roommate Jose were the first people I met when I arrived at the NIH. They both probably noticed my concerns because I remember them telling me they would be there to help me and treat me as if I were family. The next week during our orientation, I got to know the rest of the Academy members who would also become my extended family. As we were whisked from campus offices, to lab safety workshops, group lunches, and information sessions about health disparities, I began to see myself as part of a group of future physicians and scientists with similar interests. We joked about whether sitting for the longer afternoon workshops following a heavy meal at Guapos was an initial test of our endurance. It was an exhausting week to say the least.

As I walked through the Clinical Center for my first day in the lab, I saw people crowded around TV sets and staff members talking about moving patients out of the units. I heard the news of September 11th as soon as I arrived in lab. Immediately I called my family in New York and heard everyone was safe. When I got back to my apartment, Jose' and I sat glued to the TV, both of us concerned about loved ones in New York. Soon Donovan, Tiffany, and others showed up and together we endured the grief that characterized the day. After the telephone connections were up again, and the silence had ended, it seemed as if the distances between people began to grow. The beautiful open campus atmosphere was transformed into one with barriers and security checkpoints. It is sad to think that there are those who would seek to destroy places where people work towards the betterment of society. At the ceremonies held on campus during the following weeks, I regained a sense of peace when people from different cultures expressed their love for their work and this country. This year has certainly reinforced my appreciation of the preciousness of life.

Learning about the many disparities in domestic health care was an enlightening experience that also increased my passion for improving the lives of others. In addition to our Tuesday night meetings during which we learned about health disparities, as part of the Academy curriculum we also participated in conferences at NIH as well as in D.C. and Baltimore. Some of the topics addressed included the human genome's effect on minority populations, the economic implications of health disparities, and the role of population based medicine in reducing health disparities. I now understand that the issue of health disparities encompasses more than just several major diseases, but also involves greater social issues, such as poverty and inequalities in the provision of health care. It is upsetting to think that certain groups of people may not benefit from our efforts in the lab because we do not fully understand the hereditary and social implications of gender and ethnicity. I believe that the Academy at NIH will eventually set the standard for training future doctors in eliminating disparities in science and health care. Nothing has impressed me more this year than the enthusiasm of the people around me. Observing my peers in the Academy present their research, plan Academy activities, and interact with members of the community has showed me the great things that can be accomplished with compassion and dedication- whether it was attending the Langley Park Health Fair, where Nora and Jose spoke to people in Spanish about stroke and heart disease, or seeing Jose and Jordana proudly carry our health disparities banner during the AIDS walk, or watching Donovan, Eki, and Nicole distribute NIH health pamphlets during the National Black Family Reunion Health Fair.

Living in the same apartment complex on Battery Lane made it easy for all of us in the Academy to talk and share experiences off campus. I had so much fun going to dinner with Nora and Jordana, staying up late talking about religion and science with Collins and Eki, going to a pot-luck party at Brent and Donovan's apartment, and having many late night conversations with Jose about philosophy and the future of medicine. Our similarities brought us all together and our differences made for interesting discussions.

Aside from my peers in the Academy, this year would not have been a success without the great efforts of our mentors. Dr. Drew is a person who truly cares about her students and her work. Her ability to conduct our weekly class meetings in both a professional and informal manner required much dedication and understanding. In addition, Dr. Garcia-Perez, Dr. Johnson, Valerie, and Debbie have consistently been there to assist us when we needed direction in any matter- both personal and professional. And most important of all are the mentors- the lab chiefs, postdocs, and fellows who guided us through our research projects, and for me personally, Dr. Star and Dr. Yuen. With their patience and motivation we have become more knowledgeable and confident scientists.

This is undoubtedly a most exciting time in our lives. Next year some of us will be staying here to finish their research in the Academy, some, like Eki, Tiffany, and I will be staying on the East coast, and some will be traveling far from this area. Vanessa and Nora are heading to universities on the West coast, Nicole will be studying in Alabama, Sara will be going to school in Britain, and Donovan will spend a year in Australia before medical school. By being a part of the growth of the people around me this year, I myself have grown as well. We are all grateful for the unique opportunity to explore our scientific interests early in our careers, whether it was by learning from eminent scientists and refining our lab skills, meeting Nobel-prize winners, or teaching community members about improving their health. It has been a great experience. I wish everyone the utmost success in their endeavors.

Up To Top of Page