Tag: MD/PhD track

Mariam Bonyadi Mariam Bonyadi (14 Posts)

Columnist and in-Training Staff Member

University of Illinois College of Medicine

Mariam graduated with a BS in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she conducted undergraduate research in B-cell development and lymphomagenesis as well as the neurobiology of stress. In high school, Mariam spent several years studying mechanisms of induced pluripotency in an embryonic stem cell research lab at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. She now studies computational neuroscience and medicine as part of the Medical Scholars Program (MD/PhD) and the Neuroscience Program (NSP) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Outside of research and clinical experiences, Mariam has earned a black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys yoga and San Diego beaches.

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap focuses on the relationship between basic research and medicine, in order to develop an appreciation for the science that underlies the foundations of modern medicine.

25×25 Global Perspectives: Heart Health and Tobacco Use

Public universities are increasingly becoming “smoke-free” campuses, and the city of Melbourne, Australia, has recently entertained the possibility of becoming a “smoke-free” city. Some countries, including New Zealand, have implemented policies towards an “endgame” goal, in which the entire country will eventually become “smoke-free” on the grounds of protecting the health and wellbeing of its people. There clearly exists a divergence between the policy making of some of the globe’s leading first world countries in …

Nutrition, Cognition, and Longevity

The world’s oldest person, a 116-year-old Japanese woman, Ms. Misao Okawa, recently shared with the media her secret to a long life: “Eat and sleep and you will live a long time.  This advice is certainly appealing to sushi lovers (Ms. Okawa’s favorite meal!) and those who desire the return of “naptime” in school and the workplace. While the benefits of sleep were discussed in detail in a previous article on Bridging the Gap, the …

Reflections on Applying to MD/PhD Programs

I recently sat in on a luncheon with a few other current MD/PhD students as we chatted with, and fielded questions from, half a dozen applicants to our program. This brought back a multitude of memories from my own admissions season five years ago. I’ve also had plenty of experiences in the past few years interacting with talented undergraduates who are considering applying to MD/PhD programs, so I’d like to share some reflections on my process, …

When the Brain Says, “I Need More…”

While walking around campus at the beginning of the new semester, it is hard not to notice the sudden appearance of signs instructing us to “Breathe Freely” because the campus is now “Smoke-Free.” The new law has challenged some students and faculty to forego smoking altogether, and has enticed discussion about the regulation of harmful addictive substances, often revealing the social baggage associated with addictive behavior. The duality of alcohol, for example, as both the …

To Study Harder, or Sleep Longer?

The long lines at coffee shops and large crowds in the library on a university campus often indicate that it is finals week. The disproportionate numbers of students carrying energy drinks and having zombie-like appearances are both dead giveaways as well. While we are stressfully cramming, consuming junk food (“study snacks”), and consequently depriving ourselves of sleep for just a few more hours of studying, how much are we gaining (or losing) from our shift …

Life Management as a Medical (and Graduate) Student

As a member of the Medical Scholars Program at UIUC for the last 4.5 years, I have been pursuing a doctorate in the hard sciences while simultaneously completing the first-year medical school curriculum. This may seem like a daunting task (and the majority of the time, it is!) and pursuing a career in medicine under any circumstances is very challenging. In addition to the demands of medical coursework, there are always familial and personal relationships, hobbies, …

Genes, Brain and Behavior: Where Does Personality Fit?

Including athletic agility, intelligence and social behavior, many human traits are thought to exist along a continuum. Often, dynamics in skills and personality are used to distinguish one individual from the next. But when aspects of social behavior exist in such a range, it challenges scientists and behavioral specialists to identify the presence of a cognitive impairment or deficit. What factors should be used to identify a mental illness among the cohort of traits that …

Who – or What – is Responsible for Obesity?

“Study snacks,” both high in fat and sugar, are an indispensable part of any medical student’s life during exam season. Putting on weight while cramming can be expected, as there exist evolutionary, genetic and neural bases underlying high caloric food cravings during times of stress. These factors fuel unhealthy weight gain despite scientific research into obesity and educational outreach by health professionals advocating this scientific approach to understanding obesity. Uncontrolled weight gain is often a …

Choosing the MD/PhD Journey

It’s hard to say what motivates my fellow MD/PhD trainees to pursue the physician-scientist career track.  In some ways, we’re a masochistic group, voluntarily choosing to spend seven to 10 years in the prime of our lives completing two doctoral degrees instead of one, then spending another four to eight years or more in residency, research residency, postdoctoral and possibly fellowship training before seeking a “real” job.  Even for those of us who started our …

Emilia Calvaresi (6 Posts)


University of Illinois College of Medicine

Emilia Calvaresi grew up in Chicago, IL, and in 2009 completed a BS in biochemistry and cell biology and a BA in English from Rice University in Houston, TX. Then, deciding to delay the onset of entering the "real world" indefinitely, she chose to pursue the MD/PhD career track, matriculating to the UIUC Medical Scholars Program (MSP) in 2009. She is currently pursuing both an MD and a PhD in biochemistry.

MD/PhD: Becoming a Doctor-Doctor

This column explores the MD/PhD career track from a current trainee’s perspective, including the benefits and challenges of pursuing two doctoral degrees simultaneously, time management and life balance, and post-graduation training and career opportunities.