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Everything posted by MCF10A

  1. Your profile looks great. If you can get great LORs and write a solid SOP, you should be able to get interviews from a great number of programs. I'm an international applicants applied to/looked into many cancer-bio-focused programs on your list last cycle. Sadly, the admission for many cancer bio programs is very hard for intl applicants, because they rely on NIH training grants like T32. So you should look into more large biomedical science umbrella programs. From my experience, UCSF BMS and Stanford Cancer Bio rarely take intl applicants unless they can secure their own funding. Yale MMPP and Penn Cancer Bio each has only one spot for intl student last cycle (learnt from ADCOM during interviews). UChicago cancer bio and Uwash MCB had very limited spot for intl student last cycle, but it might vary from year to year. Harvard BBS, GSK, Rockefeller and UTSW are pretty intl applicant friendly. You can also look into Weill Cornell (Weill Cornell grad students can do rotation in Sloan Kettering labs), WashU, UMichigan, Baylor, NYU, and UTH/MD Anderson, which all have some great cancer bio labs.
  2. I would recommend you to take a gap year or two to get more research experience. Your GPA is good enough even for the most competitive program, but your limited research experience would hold you back. Working as a full time RA after graduation will not only help you to get more solid research experience and better recommendation letters, but also give you an opportunity to access whether grad school & a career in research is what you want.
  3. One concern I have is the length of your research experience. Before you submit your application this December, you'll have one 3-month summer research, one ~6-month thesis research, and one 5-month iGEM project. None of these can be counted as "significant" in terms of length. Do you think you understand these projects very well, be able to write about them in depth in your SOP, and get great letters from your mentors? If so, you're probably good to go. The rest of your profile is solid. For your school selection, I would simply cross off UCSF Tetrad unless you can secure ur own funding, since they rarely take any international students. UCSD has limited spots for international students so it can get very competitive too.
  4. To future international applicants: Many programs are not "international-friendly", especially some small programs that rely on NIH training grant. When selecting programs, do some homework on whether these programss have a proven track-record of taking intl students.
  5. https://gre.magoosh.com/flashcards/vocabulary/decks Magoosh GRE vocabulary flashcard is free, and it also has a mobile app which is really handy. About GRE subject test, I totally agree with @Kaede. Don't take it unless you've screwed up your upper level biology courses. I believe most of the programs don't care about subject test that much. I didn't take it, and most of my friends/interview buddies didn't take it either.
  6. I think you're in good shape. Your previous research experience looks solid. Just make sure to get great LORs from your current PI and the PI of your gap year lab. The LORs are probably the most important things in your whole package. Some comments on the GRE: it's very different from the MCAT. The verbal section of GRE is way easier than the verbal section of old MCAT which I took. For the GRE, the challenging part is the vocab, but the reading passages are very chill and the questions are straightforward. I got a shitty 52th percentile on MCAT verbal, but 93th percentile on GRE verbal. So don't worry about the GRE verbal too much as long as you spend some time studying the vocabs (I recommend the Magoosh flashcards). You need to study for the math (mostly algebra and basic stats, nothing related to calculus&beyond) and writing sections though, which are not covered by the MCAT. Also I don't think you can use MCAT score to substitute GRE for any biomedical science PhD programs (some master of public health programs do take MCAT score). And it seems that none of the PhD programs care about MCAT score (I scored a 97th percentile total score in the old MCAT and listed in several applications, but no one from any school mentioned it during my interviews). As for programs, if you are really into NYC, don't miss Rockefeller (some world-class virology&microbio faculty) and Gerstner Sloan Kettering (some great gene therapy faculty). Outside of NYC I would recommend Harvard (both BBS program and virology programs), Hopkins and UPenn.
  7. I'm committed too! So see ya'll this fall
  8. MCF10A

    MIT vs. GSK

    Still 50:50 now. It's a tough one. Yeah I learned about HU housing options, but the $900/mo dorm room in Vandy is not as attractive as the $850/mo room in 2b apartment in Uppereast lol, and I want to live close to Longwood in G1. BTW good to see you here, I probably know who you are
  9. MCF10A

    MIT vs. GSK

    I'm facing a similar decision (Harvard BBS vs. GSK) so I can totally feel you. I pretty much agree with all of your pros and cons, and just want to add a few points: (1) GSK has many PIs doing comp bio/genomics work too. They recently added a new "computational and systems biology program", and recruited Dana Pe'er from Columbia to be the chair. Those PIs are doing amazing cancer related work (Berry Taylor, John Chodera, Christina Leslie, to name a few). (2) There are several faculty members in MIT Koch doing cancer immunology (their cancer immunology program has 10 faculty members according to the website). Their work might not be as transnational as those done by GSK researchers tho. (3) GSK is not necessarily cancer biology focused. They have a top-notch structure biology department (arguably the best in the nation), and many top-notch scientists doing non-cancer related developmental biology, stem cell biology, immunology and cell biology research. I think at the end of day, the major differences between GSK and MIT Biology are (1) translational vs. basic science research; (2) New York vs. Boston. The whole impression of the GSK program gives me is that they want to train the grad students to be ready to solve the problems in cancer clinics (clinical program, many many researchers doing translational research). Most of the cancer biologists at MIT (both Whitehead and Koch) focus on the deeper mechanism questions about cancer. Scientists at both places are doing outstanding science. Which aspect of cancer research interests you the most? As for New York vs. Boston, I haven't lived in either city, but I think both are awesome cities from my interview experience. The stipend should be similar at both places. The subsidized housing from GSK is a great deal, I don't know whether MIT provides subsidized housing too (Harvard doesn't so that's a big headache) Anyway, both are awesome programs and you really can't go wrong by choosing either
  10. Got accepted by UPenn CAMB Cancer Bio (tho I already emailed to withdraw my application)... I was told by the Adcom that there's a quota for international students, so I declined the offer immediately and hope some other intl student would get this slot soon. Good luck! Updates: just declined Weill Cornell PBSB and Duke Molecular Cancer Bio too. Hope will help folks on the wait list.
  11. Just got my schedule for a upcoming interview. So I'll be interviewing 6 (!!!!!) faculty members in one day. That's goona be a longggggggg day I bet...
  12. I'm a international applicant too. Grad school admission is indeed very hard for us because of funding issue. One thing I noticed is that research experience in the US+rec letter from PIs in the US can be the deal breaker for intl applicants, especially for the most competitive schools. Most of the intl students I met in my interviews have such experience (undergrad, summer research, exchange semester, thesis research, etc in the US). Good luck on your NYU Sackler and JHU and wish you can get into both!
  13. Based on my experience it shouldn't be a big deal. I thought I screwed up 2 interviews at 2 schools because I didn't answer the follow-up questions about my own research well. I felt really bad, but I ended up receiving very positive emails from those two interviewers and got into both schools. Thing are usually better than we thought, so don't worry too much!
  14. Big congrats! Gonna keep my finger crossed till next week or so
  15. Yeah I am suspecting the same. It's likely that we won't hear back till next Wed or so. What's even worse is that they MIGHT accept less people and put more people on wait list if they really want to control the size of the class.
  16. The yield rate of most schools should be lower than 50%. The yield rate at Harvard HILS (BBS, BIG, MCO, sys bio, chem bio....adding up together) last year is just 53%. So I would assume that the "20 interviewers for 13-15 coming class" situation is 90%+ post-interview acceptance rate.
  17. Sloan Kettering acceptance!!! OMG can't describe my feeling right now
  18. I got a confirmation from the UPenn CAMB cancer bio POI that all interviews for intl students were sent out already. The whole CAMB has a quota of accepting ~3 intl students this year but they received several hundreds of intl applications. Sorry.
  19. No. Absolute silence from the Windy City. But the Penn skype interview actually gives me some hope on UChicago. Maybe UChicago cancer bio will review the whole intl pool and send out skype interviews later (just as UPenn did)? There's hope!
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