Then and Now

FEATURED TRAINEES | THEN & NOW

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NOVEMBER HIGHLIGHTED TRAINEES


  • Kayla Elliott
    KAYLA ELLIOTT

    CURE 2004 – 2006

3rd year Pathology resident at University of Vermont Medical Center. Once Kayla completes residency in 2023, she will head to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for a one-year clinical fellowship in Gastrointestinal and Hepatobiliary Pathology.

Kayla graduated from UMass Medical School in 2019 and though she is just starting her career in research, she has “learned that curiosity and mentorship go a long way in academic medicine.” She advises all of us to “stay curious, ask questions, and surround yourself with supportive people who are invested in your success.”

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  • Stevenson Tran
    STEVENSON TRAN

    SPARC 2018

Senior at UMass Boston majoring in Biology and minoring in Philosophy. Stevenson is also an EMT and undergraduate research assistant with The Pathania Lab at UMass Boston. He will pursue an MD/PhD degree after graduation.

Stevenson has accomplished a lot since SPARC in 2018 and continues to give back to CURE as a journal club facilitator during the summer. I asked: “What piece of advice would give younger Stevenson?” He shared an extensive list, but the two main points are: “It is okay to be unsure about your purpose in life and forgive yourself” and “Invest in friendships and with friendships – know when to leave and when to stand up for yourself.”

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  • Hembly Rivas
    HEMBLY RIVAS

    CURE 2012 – 2013

PhD candidate in the Virology Program at Harvard University. Hembly is interested in cancer biology and the development of clinical therapeutics against therapy-resistant cancers. Her thesis project focuses on understanding how key cell cycle regulators affect sensitivity to DNA damaging reagents.

A research career can be challenging and potentially require a lot of schooling. Still, the opportunity to use your creativity, expand your knowledge, work on current real-world problems, and capacity to help others makes it a very rewarding calling” Hembly says. “Cancer research, specifically, requires tenacity as it is a longstanding complex disease that affects many people's lives. The key to sustaining a career in cancer research is to develop an appreciation for the short-term and long-term incentives.” Head over to our Instagram (@dfhcccure) to read more about the short-term and long-term incentives Hembly mentions.

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  • Sammy Sambu
    SAMMY SAMBU

    CURE 2006

Associate Director for AI Solutions at UCB Biopharma SPRL. Sammy is also the statutory Managing Director of Bartanel Discovery focusing on the intersection of AI, signals, and clinical trial innovation.

His work entails the transversal deployment of artificial intelligence. When asked about a hidden gem of working in STEM, Sammy states, “There is always something new and exciting to do, to try or to design! The full spectrum from identifying a suitable problem, hypothesizing a testable insight, designing the experiment, drawing down the data, analyzing said data before finally arriving at a plausible thesis is both thrilling and useful in solving life's many challenges.” Sammy holds a Sc.B. in Biomedical Science & Engineering from Harvard University and a DPhil in the same field from Magdalen College Oxford in Oxford, UK. He has over a decade of experience in leading development teams for AI agents in both upstream and downstream research and development.

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OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTED TRAINEES


  • Samprity Ankita
    SAMPRITY ANKITA

    SPARC 2018

Laboratory Technician at Manus Bio, a metabolic engineering/synthetic biology company in Cambridge, MA. As a senior at UMass Boston, Samprity will complete her Bachelor’s degree and one day work towards a Master’s or PhD.

“As a Laboratory Technician at a biotechnology company I am continually learning how to run experiments and develop my interest in research study,” Samprity says when asked about the key to sustaining a career in research. “Participating in SPARC gave me opportunities to learn about cancer in depth by doing cancer research, which helped me gain knowledge about cancer disparities and develop my lab skills. Also, my experiences from attending weekly seminars and lectures in SPARC helped me learn about how to make connections and seek opportunities."

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  • Nicole Maddox
    NICOLE MADDOX

    CURE 2005

Health Research Monitoring Evaluation Associate at Abt Associates. Nicole works with public and private sector agencies to develop solutions that address issues related to global poverty, health security, and infectious diseases worldwide.

Asked to speak about the impact of CURE, Nicole says, “I like to think of my CURE experience as the canon to my career in public health and research. Before CURE, my experience in research had all been within a laboratory. The CURE program introduced me to community-based research and its significance for understanding and addressing social determinants to advance health equity. I also realized that laboratory research depends on the community or people it is designed to help. I enjoyed being in the community conducting surveys about health behaviors and documenting healthcare experiences from a personal perspective, specifically examining the impact of health disparities in underserved areas in Boston. Since participating in CURE, nearly 16 years ago, I have continued my journey in research. I have supported research initiatives in the United States and internationally in Italy, Kenya, Zambia, and Ivory Coast through my work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Population Council, and Ministries of Health.”

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  • Doug Chapski
    DOUG CHAPSKI

    CURE 2008 – 2009

Postdoctoral scholar at UCLA. Doug’s research examines structural rearrangements that occur in the genome during heart failure, to better understand basic mechanisms that drive disease.

Doug says “the key to sustaining a career in research is three-fold: First, developing a curiosity about how things work brings new fundamental questions to light. Second, a creative problem-solving approach fosters innovation in the research world. Third, relentless pursuit of fundamental knowledge allows scientists to paint a more comprehensive picture of what is going on in their line of research. Altogether, these qualities help researchers to make better sense of the puzzle that is biology.”

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  • Laura Perrault
    LAURA PERRAULT

    YFC Cohort 1 2018 – 2020

Research Assistant in Clifford J. Woolf Laboratory at Boston Children’s Hospital. Laura studies the intersection of stem cell biology and pain neuropathy and uses this experience as preparation for applying to graduate school.

Laura was a part of the inaugural YFC cohort and gained “lifelong friendships and connections through the CURE program that have truly changed my life,” she says. "Throughout the job application process, I have gotten much praise about not only the depth of my research experience, but also the strong professional development that I’ve had while in the program. I owe my smooth job search and so much more to the CURE program and I am so grateful for all that they have done to get me to the next step, even now as an alumnus!"

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SEPTEMBER HIGHLIGHTED TRAINEES


  • Jeans Miguel Santana
    JEANS MIGUEL SANTANA

    CURE 2008 – 2010

Adult Cardiothoracic Anesthesia Fellow, PGY-5 at Tufts Medical Center. Jeans is learning the anesthetic management of patients with cardiovascular disease and learning intraoperative transesophageal echocardiography in this one-year program.

When asked about hidden gems in STEM, Jeans shares, “Early in one's training, opportunities in STEM builds the CV and later opens doors to greater opportunities.  It is fun to do and gives one tremendous insight on the type of career one ought to pursue.  CURE introduced me to the world of research, it led me to compete and earn grants and fellowships before and during medical school.  As I look for my first job after fellowship, I am confident I can land most academic titles and climb the ladder.  The world becomes your oyster.”

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  • Jose Zepeda
    JOSE ZEPEDA

    SPARC 2018

Pharmacology PhD student at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Jose works in the Grueter lab studying experience-dependent synaptic plasticity, the brain’s ability to rewire itself.

When asked about the importance of mentorship, Jose shares, “Being a first-generation American and the first in my extended family to pursue a college degree came with many trials and tribulations. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the generous and exceptional mentorship I have received from so many people, including my experience in the SPARC program. Therefore, one of my greatest joys thus far in science has been paying it forward by mentoring students, especially those of disadvantaged backgrounds.”

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  • Ketura’h Edwards
    KETURA’H EDWARDS

    CURE Summer Only 2008

Nurse Practitioner in Women's Health at the Dimock Center. Ketura’h cares for women across the lifespan, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.

When asked what role the CURE experience plays in her leadership development, Ketura’h states, “During my time in the CURE program, I learned how to develop and implement my own research project as well as create a presentation showcasing the work. There was a lot of independent work and personal responsibility and as a sophomore in college that was both scary and exciting. The challenges faced with running my own research and the skills I learned because of my time in the CURE program influenced the leader I am today. Just recently I advocated for my current department to create its own maternal child health education program with the hope of making a local impact on the maternal morbidity rate of BIPOC birthing people, especially Black women who we serve primarily at our clinic. I am currently doing the training and simultaneously creating a childbirth education program for our patients at the Dimock Center.”

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  • Lisa Teixeira
    LISA TEIXEIRA

    CURE Summer Only 2006

An oncology staff nurse in an inpatient bone marrow transplant unit. This fall Lisa will return to the University of Massachusetts, Boston to obtain her Master of Science in Nursing. During her summer with CURE, Lisa learnt first-hand being a nurse goes beyond caring for a patient at the bedside as she worked alongside a nurse scientist, seeing firsthand what nursing research entailed.

Lisa mentions, “The key to sustaining a nursing career in cancer has been caring for my patients beyond their cancer diagnosis. Each patient has a unique story and life outside of their diagnosis. Providing care and education that looks at the person and not just the cancer, allows the care and education I provide to transcend through the hospital walls.”

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  • Bridget Healy
    BRIDGET HEALY

    SPARC 2018

A medical assistant at a medical dermatology office and a critical care technician at MGH. I am currently applying to PA programs in the New England area to achieve my goals of becoming a Physician Assistant.

While I don’t work in research now, my experiences as a part of SPARC still impacts my understanding of medicine and the creation of innovative therapies. My research helped me to understand sophisticated dermatology procedures, such as MOHS surgery, since my own experiments used a similar method of fixing cells. I also use my experiences from attending seminars and lectures to connect with any of my patients who are seen at Dana-Farber. Most importantly, my research as a part of SPARC was used to complete my senior thesis and as a result, I earned honors in biology and graduated as a part of the honors college at UMB.”

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