screenshot of dissertation defense

Five Set to Graduate Wright Center Ph.D. Program after Dissertation Defense

Five students defended their dissertations this semester and officially graduate on Friday from the Wright Center’s Ph.D. program.

Their multi-year research projects ran the gamut from genetic analysis of individual patient needs to therapeutic strategies in cancer patients.

Tia Turner – “From Bedside to Bench: Use of Patient-derived Xenograft Models to Develop Novel Therapeutic Strategies for Triple-negative Breast Cancer”

Alexander Azzo – “The Functional Importance of Methyl CpG Binding Domain Proteins 2 and 3 in Regulating Fetal Hemoglobin Expression in Human Adult Erythroid Cells”

Jared Farrar – “Genetic and Cellular Models for the Study of PTK2B and ADAM10 in Adaptive Thermogenesis and Metabolism”

Kranthi Chougoni – “Role of C-terminal Binding Proteins in Progression of Pancreatic Cancer”

Kevin McKee – “Phenotype Extraction: Estimation and Biometrical Genetic Analysis of Individual Dynamics”

Turner, Azzo and Farrar are on the M.D.-Ph.D. track and returned to VCU’s School of Medicine to begin finishing their medical degrees in April.

Chougoni and McKee, who defended their dissertations digitally after COVID-19 social distancing measures went into place, are Ph.D. students. McKee heads to Virginia Tech for a post-doctoral fellowship.

The degree in Clinical and Translational Science will empower these clinicians and scientists to begin careers in interdisciplinary research methods with real world consequences for health and patient care – more important than ever.

As for the experience of the online dissertation defense: “Even knowing that I was going to do it online for a couple of weeks before, I still kept picturing that I’d be in the conference room actually standing up before an audience,” says McKee. But it had unexpected benefits. “You can just minimize the grid that shows your audience so you don’t have to be aware of how many people are watching.”

Congratulations to the graduates!

screenshot of dissertation defense
Kevin McKee’s Zoom dissertation defense on April 1.

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