Dustin DeMeo, a rising third-year student enrolled in Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’s University Program, is referred to in the school’s parlance as a “bent arrow”—a non-traditional student who had a different career prior to pursuing medicine. Ten years older than his oldest classmate, DeMeo arrived at the School of Medicine in 2018 after working as a successful investment banker.
“The allure of investment banking was strong,” said DeMeo, who earned undergraduate degrees in computer science and finance from University of Pennsylvania. “And although I enjoyed my career, I knew I had to do something more personally fulfilling.”
To satisfy the prerequisites needed for medical school, DeMeo took courses near his home in northern California at Merritt College’s genomics institute and then transferred to San Jose State University’s Stem Cell Internships in Laboratory Learning training program. DeMeo was then awarded a fellowship from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine to study immune repertoires at Stanford University.
DeMeo took time between his second and third year at the School of Medicine to analyze the molecular basis of psoriasis under a National Institutes of Health training fellowship with Kevin Cooper, chair of the Department of Dermatology at CWRU and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, and research mentors Thomas McCormick and Bryan Carroll, associate professors in the Department of Dermatology.
“Working with visionary mentors confirmed my true passion—translational medical research—integrating big data and basic science discoveries that can be translated directly to benefit patients,” DeMeo said.
Slated to graduate in 2023, DeMeo hopes to extend his research with a PhD program, fellowships or research-focused residencies.
“Although my route to get here was anything but traditional,” he noted, “I know that I found my passion and life’s work at CWRU School of Medicine.”