Inuk Zandvakili.Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Undergraduate Institution: University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

I would recommend this program because the Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation is the happiest, most collegial research atmosphere I have ever worked in and the Molecular and Developmental Biology (MDB) program is truly leading the way in making Cincinnati Children’s a great place to train.

I moved to Cincinnati from Toronto, Canada, in 2007 to join the Physician-Scientist Training Program at the College of Medicine at UC. I spent a lot of time during my first two years in medical school looking at my options for a graduate program, but it was clear from the beginning that Cincinnati Children’s was the best place to be. Before I even began, I could see that the MDB program stood out for several reasons. The program’s reputation had been increasing every year, and continues to do so. The facilities are brand new and the structure allows for open-concept labs, reinforcing the collaborate atmosphere. The people are diverse, the faculty are well funded and many are leaders in their field. Lastly, the graduate stipend here is the most competitive stipend at the university, allowing the students to enjoy a great lifestyle in a very affordable city.

However, it’s only after joining MDB that I have really begun to appreciate the best parts of the program. Although the faculty are leaders in their respective fields, they still find the time to - and enjoy - mentoring students. This crucial attribute is lacking at many top institutions where competition and the pressure to be productive keeps faculty from performing this important role. Graduate school is foremost about training and mentoring. Secondly, the MDB program is extremely flexible, and although development is a favorite subject, the program supports students in any field of study they choose. Finally, the MDB program has a great administration that looks out for their student’s well-being whether it be helping international students or supporting the students’ with the student health insurance plan.

It’s really a triad: Great science. Great mentoring. Great people.