Research Opportunities for MUSC Students

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Research Opportunities for MUSC Students




Guest:  Yusuf Hannun – Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Host:  Dr. Linda Austin – Psychiatry


Dr. Linda Austin:  I’m Dr. Linda Austin.  I’m talking, today, with Professor Yusuf Hannun who is Professor of Biochemistry and Associate Director of Research at Hollings Cancer Center.  Dr. Hannun, in this podcast, I’d like for us to talk about research opportunities for graduate students here at MUSC, for post docs, also for residents.  Can you tell us a little bit, as if you’re speaking to somebody wanting to learn about those opportunities?  What do we offer?  What are some of our strengths here for training?


Yusuf Hannun:  Thank you, Linda, for asking that question.  We actually have a lot of opportunities for all these categories of trainees or prospective trainees.  As you know, we have a graduate school that’s dedicated to graduate education.  The dean is Perry Halushka.  We have a common interest in this graduate school.  Students take one year of a common curriculum and then they decide on what departments or programs they want to join, and they actually have to choose a specific mentor where they can perform their thesis work.  Predominantly, we offer PhD degrees and a few masters’ degrees in the basic science department.


So, for graduate students, there are ample opportunities.  I don’t know the number off the top of my head, but possibly, 100, 120 basic science labs and maybe another 50 research labs throughout the medical center that are accessible to graduate students.  So, they have a plethora of opportunities to choose from, whether it’s neuroscience, cancer, inflammation, diabetes, structural biology, chemical biology, pharmacology, physiology, microbiology.  They have a whole variety of subjects to choose from and an even richer menu of talented mentors to choose from.  The choice of a mentor is critical for graduate students because that’s what they will be doing, spending three, four, five years in one laboratory with one mentor directing them and taking them on to the next step.


Dr. Linda Austin:  And we have a medical scientist training program here as well.


Yusuf Hannun:  We also have a medical science training program which is NIH funded.  It’s funded by the National Institutes of Health.  It is directed toward students who desire a dual degree, one as an MD and one as a PhD.  These are highly talented students.  The process is highly competitive.  The program pays for their entire education throughout the PhD and MD degrees.  It’s intertwined.  They start with medical degree studies for two years, then their PhD work.  Then they finish with two years of clinical work.  This is a highly successful program here and it’s a highlight of what we have.  And again, these students can access, pretty much, all the same mentors and laboratories and disciplines that the graduate students can.


I could also add that, for residents and fellows, there are all these research programs that are accessible to them and they can spend time there, whether it’s a few months, a year, or two years.  There are many funding opportunities for clinical residents and fellows who want to spend extra time in the lab, which eases that process significantly.  In addition, clinical residents and fellows have options, of what we call, training in translational research and clinical trials.  And we have a formal master’s program, so they can acquire a master’s degree in clinical trials and clinical research. 


Dr. Linda Austin:  Wow.  It sounds like an enormous variety of opportunities. 


Yusuf Hannun:  Tremendous.  And, what’s exciting is that this is the time to be in it, all of these discoveries that are ongoing in the basic sciences, all the, what we call, translational aspects of that, meaning, to take those basic science discoveries to clinical situations, or vice versa, take things one learns, observations one learns, or acquires from clinical studies back to understanding them at the basic level.  This is a place to be to study that.  This is the time to be studying that.


Dr. Linda Austin:  Thanks so much for talking with us about this.


Yusuf Hannun:  You’re welcome.  Thank you very much.


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