AnnieM Posted July 20, 2019 Share Posted July 20, 2019 Hi all, I'm applying to PhD programs for entrance Fall 2020. I'm in the process of narrowing down which programs best suit my research interests, but even after viewing faculty research profiles and general descriptions, I'm having trouble parsing the finer details of each choice from this readily available info, such as, what's it like to be a student there? How strong is their research in the areas I'm interested in? Etc. My research goal has been the same for the past 20 years: to find a cure for HIV infection... or a vaccine... eventually, both. I had the idea as an undergraduate when I studied Immunology and also took several Calculus courses. I thought, why not approach a cure or vaccine from a mathematical standpoint? What if the biological problem of random mutation (and other issues making HIV hard to eradicate in the body) could be modeled mathematically, then computational methods (data science) and new engineering techniques (such as CRISP-R) could be applied to come up with a solution, or at least a more detailed description of the problem? Giving this info as background to help clarify what I'm looking for, and what programs may be a good fit. Also, in the event that a cure and vaccine are developed, I am still very interested in applying the same principle (mathematical modeling of biological systems and pathology to aid in development of disease treatments) to other areas of medicine. I have a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Vanderbilt ('01), and an M.A. in Biostatistics from UC Berkeley ('12). I'm a white female, 40 years old - kindly asking please no disparaging comments on my age, I don't care so much that I'm ancient compared to many applicants! I won't go into the finer details of my background, because in this post I am interested in which program would truly be a good research fit, not my chances of getting in (I'll cross that bridge when I come it it - suffice to say, I have the basic prerequisites to apply to all of these programs). I have good research experience, wrote a paper on it for publication (not published... long story), have worked in the health sciences and data science & analytics since I graduated from Berkeley, did outreach work for people living with HIV/AIDS in college, am generally a humanitarian type with a curious, scientific mind, and I LOVE math. Did one year of med school before dropping out due to a serious illness in my early 20's. Since I'm more research-focused, I'd like to get a Ph.D. or an MD/PhD (but, I'd really like to avoid taking the MCAT again, TBH). The programs I'm curious about are: 1) Harvard-MIT MEMP (this seems a great fit to me, very interested in Arup Chakraborty's work as well as Bruce Walker's) 2) Stanford Biomedical Informatics - seems to be the right program at Stanford for what I'm after, but I also looked at Bioengineering and Immunology... anyone's opinion on these and their fit with my research goals is most welcome! 3) Harvard BIG or BBS - they both look awesome, I can't tell which is a better fit, but possibly BIG... though I like the sound of the interdisciplinary nature of BBS and how much students seem to love that program. That said, the research fit is really the crucial piece. These are the ones I've looked at but have been unable to really tell which is the best fit. I mention Harvard-MIT MEMP because it seems so ideal for my goals, but I just learned about the program this past year, so I'm curious if anyone has been more involved in it and/or knows what it's like to be a grad student there. Thank you whoever read this whole thing for your help, I truly appreciate it!! If anyone is a current or past student in any of these programs, I would love to get your perspective. Also, if anyone is a student in a program that would be a great fit based on my research interests, I'd also love to hear about it. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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