Programa de Verano 2020 en Sagrado y MIT

PROGRAMA DE VERANO DE SAGRADO/MIT EN JUNIO 2020 PARA ESTUDIANTES DE ESCUELA SUPERIOR (9, 10 Y 11).

Enlace a la grabación de la orientación realizada el lunes 7 de octubre sobre el Programa de Verano organizado por Sagrado Global para el verano de 2020 en Sagrado, MIT y Harvard. 

 

Fecha inicial para someter solicitud: 15 de noviembre de 2019

Fecha límite para solicitar: 1 de febrero de 2020

Duración: 1 al 27 de junio de 2020

Dónde: semanas 1 y 2 en la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón; semanas 3 y 4 en Cambridge, MA en las facilidades de MIT y Harvard.

Costo total aproximado (incluye pasaje, comidas y hospedaje por 27 días, transportación, materiales, laboratorios, entre otros): de $5,000 a $6,000 (dependiendo del costo de pasaje y otros).

Ayuda financiera:  En proceso de levantar fondo de becas para ofrecerle la oportunidad a todo estudiante meritorio que no pueda sufragar el programa. (Más detalles a medida que logremos los compromisos de becas.)

 

El programa es dirigido por los nuevos Sagrado Global Fellows, el Doctor Héctor de Jesús-Cortés de MIT y la Doctora Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez de Harvard Medical School.  

Ambos estarán asesorando y apoyando a Sagrado Global en la expansión de los programas de Data Science y Neuro-ciencias en un programa de intercambio para estudiantes pre-universitarios entre San Juan & Cambridge en el verano del 2020.    

Dr. Héctor de Jesús-Cortés

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT

I was born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. I want to give my perspective of why I believe in Sagrado’s Global exchange program and decided to join and support it.

Both of my parents valued education greatly and taught me that it would provide the tools needed to successfully pursue whatever career I chose. My passion growing up was sports. I started playing baseball when I was seven years old and my dream was to play professionally. I was never the tallest, nor the most talented player on the team, but I always played with all my heart and soul which is one of the characteristics that defines the Puerto Rican culture. In high school, I decided to play volleyball in addition to professional baseball. Unfortunately, I pulled my right triceps and could no longer play either sport. This forced me to ask myself, “what do I do now?” Around the same time, I was thinking about proposals for the annual school science fair.  My dad was taking a plant extract to lower his glucose levels and I was very curious about how it worked. I decided to go to the University of Puerto Rico and see if someone could help me answer this question. Every investigator told me that it could not be done in their labs. I didn’t give up, however, and searched at other universities where I finally found a lab that allowed me to pursue this project. I spent every afternoon after school in a chemistry laboratory trying to isolate the bio-active compounds of Mormodica Charantia (Bitter Melon) plant. I thoroughly enjoyed this work and, after one year, was able to demonstrate that Bitter Melon did not contain a single unique hypoglycemic compound; instead, the hypoglycemic effect was due to the synergistic activity of multiple plant components. I won first prize in the “Medicine and Health” category in the regional scientific and engineering fair for this work.

This experience made me realize that I was good at something besides sports and more importantly, that I loved the scientific method. The positive correlation of hard work and success inspired me to explore research as a career path and I therefore decided to pursue my undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras campus. Similar to baseball, I was not the smartest or prodigious student in college and I had a hard time finding a lab that wanted to give me an opportunity to do research. In spite of this, I kept trying and finally my Genetics professor saw my potential and determination, and recommended me to the laboratory of Dr. Irving Vega in my sophomore year. It was in his lab that I became enamored with neuroscience because I saw that there were so many unanswered questions that I wanted to ultimately help answer. My competitive, disciplined and hard-working qualities that were so valuable in sports kicked in and I ended up winning a fellowship (even with a lower GPA than they asked for) and leading a project that resulted in multiple published articles including one as first author, and later honored with the best undergraduate researcher in biology award. After this, I had no doubt that I wanted to pursue a research career in neuroscience and decided to go to UT Southwestern Medical Center for graduate school.

My experiences to this point made me want to explore translational neuroscience research, because I could discover basic knowledge in the lab and later see it applied to the human condition. For this reason, I decided to join researcher/physician Dr. Andrew A. Pieper for my dissertation work. In his lab, my work focused on evaluating the efficacy of the P7C3-series of neuroprotective compounds in multiple models of neurodegeneration with respect to their potency and efficacy of blocking neuronal cell death, as well as associated behavioral outcomes.  I used multiple animal and cellular models of neuronal cell death, including Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and mice lacking expression of L-type calcium channels in the brain. I showed that the P7C3-series of compounds protect mature neurons outside of the hippocampus from otherwise overwhelming toxic insult, and that this protection is associated with preservation of normal neurological function. Together, these findings provided starting points for the development of new treatments for neurodegenerative disease, as well as tools to study the biology underlying these disorders. I successfully defended my doctorate three and a half years after my admission, graduating first in my class. My graduate experience exposed me to a variety of techniques from different laboratories that made me fall in love with a multi-level scientific approach and taught me the importance and value of collaborations and networking. This experience also made clear to me that a career in academia as a principal investigator would allow me to fulfill my goal of making discoveries that would later help patients with neuropsychiatric and/or neurological disorders. It also made me realize the importance of mentoring at a young age, through multiple students I had the pleasure to interact in the lab.

After my experience in Graduate School, I realized I wanted and needed to expand my knowledge and tool set in neurophysiology in order to apply a multi-level approach later in my laboratory. The interest came from my lack of understanding and growing frustration when reading and discussing this field with my peers. It was like a molecular biologist/biochemist could not understand physiology and vice versa. I believe that the more we know and apply at different levels in an experiment, the stronger our conclusions and hopefully later translation can be achieved. Therefore, for my postdoctoral training I decided to join Mark Bear’s lab at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, a world-renowned scientist in neurophysiology and translational neuroscience. Now I work in trying to find treatments that enhance learning and memory with the ultimate goal of alleviating neurodegenerative disorders.

The Sagrado Global program excites me because as I mentioned earlier, it was through an early exposure to the scientific method and the support of role models, that I was able to be successful throughout my career. Now I feel prepared and honored to be part of a program to spark that scientific method light and hopefully ignite the new generation of young scientist to pursue a career in science and technology.

 

Dra. Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez

Postdoctoral Fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School

I am a product of Puerto Rico’s public education system. I had the privilege to be surrounded by supportive teachers who fostered by curiosity for different topics, and was exposed to a diversity socioeconomic status and access to opportunities. I found my career path when I was an undergraduate Psychology student at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, where I became fascinated by the dynamic relationship between the brain and behavior. I decided to pursue a career in clinical science. Since then, my research has focused on characterizing memory functioning in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and identifying protective factors against dementia, using cutting- edge neuroimaging techniques and cognitive measures. As a Clinical Psychology graduate student at the University of Iowa, I examined the dissociation between emotions and memory in AD and it’s neural correlates, as well as the efficacy of an intervention for caregivers of individuals with AD. Recognizing the need for intervening early in AD, as AD-related brain changes are known to begin decades before symptom onset, I chose to focus my postdoctoral research in the preclinical stage of AD at MGH/HMS. I currently use cognitive and cerebrospinal fluid measures, and neuroimaging techniques to find markers that are sensitive to the early brain changes seen in the preclinical stage of AD, with the hope of using these to identify individuals at high risk for dementia and intervene early. I am able to study these markers by investigating the world’s largest kindred with autosomal-dominant AD, which some consider to be the “ideal” model for studying preclinical AD. I try to find cognitive measures that we could use to diagnose AD early. I also examine how cognition relates to the integrity of functional brain networks, particularly in networks that are vulnerable to AD pathology (e.g. amyloid and tau). Most recently, I began to examine the influence of aerobic fitness in the progression of AD, including pathology accumulation, cognition, and neuroinflammation. Finally, I provide neuropsychological services to Latino adults and elderly with a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders at the MGH Multicultural Neuropsychology Program.

My ultimate career goal is to establish myself as an independent clinical investigator dedicated to identifying and understanding factors, such as aerobic fitness, that can prevent or modify the course of AD. I am also interested in capitalizing on my cultural background, bilingual skills, and clinical training in multicultural issues to study AD prevention in ethnically diverse populations.

I feel privileged to have had all these opportunities that have strengthened and advanced my scientific career, and have given me a voice to influence others. I aim to provide others, particularly young talent, with similar opportunities to help them find their path and to succeed. It is for these reasons that I am committed to the Sagrado Global program, a wonderful opportunity for young students who are curious about the exciting world of science.

Finally, I enjoy dancing, singing, cooking, mofongo, exercising, friends, and family.