Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Program

  • Vicky Gomez

    Vicky Gomez.Undergraduate Institution: Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH

    You might be wondering: Why Cincinnati Children’s Hospital? And to answer that I would like to tell a short story about how I got to where I am today. I am originally from Argentina; but when I was 14-years-old my family and I moved to Pembroke Pines, Florida. After graduating from High School, I decided to attend Xavier University in Cincinnati. Even though it was far away from home and from my family (who was staying in Florida), I was very excited about beginning this new adventure.

    As a Xavier undergraduate, I had the opportunity of working with Dr. Tiffany Cook in the Division of Ophthalmology, where I did my Senior Research Thesis. Working in this environment as an undergraduate helped me to apply all my knowledge as well as to expand it beyond the limits of a classroom. More importantly, I got the chance to become part of the world of Research, where I was always challenged, and still am, to take myself up to the next level both intellectually and academically. This is where my interest in scientific research truly began to grow!

    Prior to my experience here, I had planned to attend Medical School after graduation. However, after being exposed to and fully enjoying scientific research, I quickly found a new passion. Therefore, after graduating from Xavier, I decided to take some time before pursuing a post-graduate degree to test the possibility of combining both basic and clinical research. I was fortunate to find an ideal position here at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the Division of Asthma Research that allowed me exactly that opportunity: I was working in the lab doing basic scientific research and I was also involved in more of the translational aspect in which I was working one-on-one with patients to recruit them to participate in our studies. In this position I got to be part of both worlds: basic and clinical research. And this is where I found my passion. I wanted to be part of the Research world, whose efforts were directed to provide a better future for our children.

    The time I spent and the experiences I gained at Cincinnati Children’s made it certain that this was the place where I wanted to pursue my PhD. When making my decision, I strongly considered the faculty I would be working with and the type of relationships PIs have with their students. The Molecular and Developmental Biology Graduate Program has excellent and very successful faculty who are truly invested in our success and who believe creating a good PI-student relationship is a priority. And most importantly, the MDB program offers a very friendly atmosphere and group of students and staff that make you feel at home from the very first time you step on our campus!

    The program offers students a great variety of topics where we combine both our basic and translational research endeavors with the ultimate goal of finding treatments for the disorders and diseases affecting children today. This is the reason why during my first year as a graduate student, I had the opportunity to rotate in many different labs that got me exposed to different research areas, animal models, techniques, lab dynamics and different styles of PIs. Because we have such a large number of faculties, it gives students the opportunity to expand and explore all the different aspects of choosing a project, a lab and a PI. Our choices are limitless!  

    I can now happily say that I am a second-year graduate student in Katherine Yutzey’s lab, which is part of the Heart Institute here at Cincinnati Children’s. Our lab works on transcriptional regulators involved during heart development and disease. My project concentrates on the role of the BMP pathway and its downstream targets in the development and progression of Calcific Aortic Valve Disease.

    I will be happy to share any other information or experiences if you are interested, just let me know!

    Awards: May 19, 2012: Akeson Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Graduate Program.