MD-PhD Students Present Research, Learn About the Importance of Mentorship

Members of the MD-PhD program at Columbia University gather for a group photo in the Vagelos Education Center.

Members of Columbia's MD-PhD program 

Thirty-two aspiring physician-scientists from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons presented their research posters at the 14th annual MD-PhD Student Research Symposium on April 25. Their research delved into a range of topics, including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and stem cells. Four of the students gave short talks about their work.

Priya Rajasethupathy

Priya Rajasethupathy, MD, PhD'2013

During the event, Priya Rajasethupathy, MD, PhD'2013, the Jonathan M. Nelson Family Assistant Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neural Dynamics and Cognition at Rockefeller University, gave a lecture titled “The Evolving Memory Trace.” She also discussed her career path.

“The fun of starting a lab comes in two parts,” Rajasethupathy said. “First, you get to recruit the people you’re going to spend time doing science with. Teamwork and mentorship are important in science. Second, you spend a lot of time thinking about your vision.”

Rajasethupathy learned firsthand about mentorship at Columbia, thanks to her collaboration with Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel, MD, University Professor and Kavli Professor of Brain Science, co-director of Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science, and senior investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Columbia.

“Eric was my PhD mentor,” said Rajasethupathy. “We studied memory and synaptic processes. The enthusiasm he had for science, and to care deeply about my work, was inspiring.” 

The event culminated in the poster session judged by MD-PhD alumni who currently work at Columbia, including Alexander Lyashchenko'2016, Stephen Rayport'1982, Tristan Sands'2010, Elizabeth Stone'2016, and Andrew Teich'2006. They named the winners: Laura Benoit, Daniel Echelman, Alyssa Klein, Ori Lieberman, Samuel Resnick, and Phyllis Thangaraj.

MD-PhD students prepare to become biomedical leaders as part of Columbia’s Medical Scientist Training Program. Combining clinical and scientific education, the program emphasizes faculty-student collaboration in research laboratories across the University.