CSI student Jason Ford has recently received some great news. He has been accepted into the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Medical Science Training Program, a National Institutes of Health-funded MD/PhD program, where he will seek his PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
“I owe much of my success to the excellent education, support, and mentoring opportunities offered to students at the College of Staten Island,” says Jason, who just graduated from the College summa cum laude in 2008 with a BS in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Biochemistry, and is currently enrolled in the CUNY MS in Neuroscience program, studying under Dr. Probal Banerjee. “After reviewing the medical and graduate school curricula, which are done simultaneously, I can see that I have been extraordinarily well-prepared for these arduous yet immensely rewarding endeavors in academia and clinical medicine. I will always remember the great things that CSI has done for me, and will always advocate CUNY education as I progress through my career.”
Jason’s interest in biology budded at an early age, but his interests shifted a bit after he arrived at CSI. “I took organic chemistry and fell in love with it, which is surprising, considering that I was a Biology major. I loved organic so much that I ended up taking three courses in biochemistry with Dr. Fred Naider and Dr. Banerjee. After learning the subject well, I came to realize that biochemistry is really the cause of cell and molecular biology, anatomy, and physiology. Since then, I’ve been very interested in biochemical research, and that’s really where the focus of my research initiatives has been.”
After more time at CSI, Jason also found an interest in neuroscience. “I got into neuroscience in a rather roundabout way. I took physiology and histology with Dr. Charles Kramer and Dr. El Abdeslem Idrissi. I very much enjoyed these courses and I really benefited from their expertise and knowledge base. Out of all the topics in both courses, I absolutely loved the anatomy, physiology, and histology of the nervous system. Every time I read about a certain part of the brain or the spine, I became very interested and excited about it. It was almost as if I knew right after physiology that I wanted my medical career to involve something with the brain and/or spinal cord in one way or the other. I ended up taking neuroscience classes in the year while I was applying for MD/PhD programs.”
As a result of his well-rounded interests, Jason has had the opportunity to conduct research aimed at improving the environment, an investigation of how chromatin structure affects gene expression, synthesizing peptides with applications for agriculture and the development of an HIV-1 vaccine, and a molecular study of the antipsychotic drug clozapine, in an effect to gain insight into the treatment of schizophrenia. Of his research, he notes, “CSI students have a tremendous opportunity to pursue biomedically relevant and intellectually stimulating research. In my time at CSI, I had my own projects and I had the chance to work independently and confront the problems that I encountered in the laboratory.”
Now that he has been accepted into the MD/PhD program at Albert Einstein, what does the future hold for Jason Ford? “It’s quite hard for me to say what my plans will be after graduating with my MD and PhD degrees,” Jason says. “However,” he continues, “above everything else, I hope to get a stellar education as a physician-scientist, which will allow me to integrate both aspects of my training. I know that while I am at Einstein, I will utilize every opportunity available to me in terms of learning how to do great research while being a sound clinician. While I am precisely unsure of the medical specialty I will choose, I would like to pick research and medical specialties which are intertwined, allowing me to bring my findings from the laboratory bench into the clinics and hospitals to benefit patients. Some of the medical fields that I am considering include neurosurgery, plastic surgery, dermatology, and pediatric oncology, but I still have some time to decide.”