Ask a Student

Want to know what it's like to be in the MSTP? Ask one of our students!

Syrena Bracey

Syrena Bracey, MSTP student, standing in front of red suspension bridge
  • Entering Class: 2017
  • PhD Program: Undecided; Pharmacology or Genetics
  • Advisor:  Undecided
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Hometown: Clinton, MD.
  • Research Interests: Cellular Biology, Cancer Biology
  • About me: I entered the program straight out of undergrad, so I am the youngest, but pretty much the mom of my cohort. I love to eat, go to festivals, attend concerts, and dance (not professionally, just at social gatherings), and I am always down for an adventure (but nothing too crazy, like skydiving).
  • Comment about the MSTP program: There is an overwhelming (in a good way) amount of support from the faculty, staff, and older students, and I couldn't have chosen a better program.

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Anna Czapar

  • Anna Czapar, MSTP student
    Entering Class: 2012
  • PhD Program: Pathology
  • Advisor: Nicole Steinmetz, PhD
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Illinois
  • Hometown: Rochester, IL.
  • Research Interests: Targeted delivery of therapeutics using viral nanoparticles
  • About me: Outside of lab I like riding my bike, running, cross-country skiing, baking, reading, and drinking too much coffee.
  • Comment about the MSTP program: The MSTP at Case is full of brilliant, helpful, and dedicated students and faculty. I feel lucky to be a part of it.

Email Anna at

Avery Sears

Avery Sears, MSTP student
  • Entering Class: 2013
  • PhD Program: Pharmacology
  • Advisor: Krzysztof Palczewski, PhD
  • Undergraduate Institution: Case Western Reserve University
  • Hometown: Cleveland, OH.
  • Research Interests: My research investigates the mechanisms behind retinoid metabolism in the retina, specifically how the visual chromophore, 11-cis¬-retinol, is produced and transported.
  • About me: I am from Cleveland and lived in Utah prior to attending CWRU as an undergraduate. I love to ski, play hockey and bike around town! Cleveland has much to offer and please ask if you have any questions about the city.
  • Comment about the MSTP program: CWRU MSTP is a great community built on collaboration and friendship. We are part of a unique group with the ability to apply ourselves in multiple disciplines, yet CWRU MSTP makes these transitions seamless! I am happy to be part of a program that will prepare me as a physician scientist.

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Yorleny Vicioso

Yorlena Visioso, MSTP student
  • Entering Class: 2014
  • PhD Program: Pathology
  • Advisor: Reshmi Parameswaran, MS, PhD
  • Undergraduate Institution: State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Hometown: Freeport, NY.
  • Research Interests: I am interested in understanding tumor immune evasion. Particularly, how do different cancers render NK cells dysfunctional and how we can harness NK cells for adoptive transfer immunotherapy.
  • About me: I am originally from The Dominican Republic. In 2005, I moved to Long Island, NY where my family resides. Outside of the laboratory and medicine, I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, biking, and running. I love going to the local theaters and to the Cleveland orchestra.
  • Comment about the MSTP program: The MSTP at case truly provides a community of collaborative scientists and physicians who are experts in their fields. They are passionate about teaching and treat the students as colleagues. The students, directors, and administrators are phenomenal and have provided much support throughout the first years of med school and during PhD. The diversity of backgrounds and knowledge makes this program extremely welcoming.

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Kirkland Wilson

Kirkland Wilson
  • Entering Class: 2011
  • PhD Program: Nutrition
  • Advisor: Henri Brunengraber, MD, PhD
  • Undergraduate Institution: North Carolina Central University
  • Hometown: Mechanicsville, VA.
  • Research Interests: Nutritional Biochemistry and Inborn Errors of Metabolism
  • About me: I am born and raised in Virginia, and in my free time I enjoy exploring Cleveland's museums, restaurants, and night life. My research interests surround Inborn Errors of Metabolism and exploring the genetic and metabolic basis of these diseases. My plans for residency are to pursue a Pediatric Genetics Residency followed by a Clinical Biochemical Fellowship. Sketching is my other passion
  • Comment about the MSTP program: While at Case I've enjoyed everyone who I've met through the MSTP program, from the students who are motivated, friendly, and cooperative and the administration who are incredibly helpful and accessible. Many questions have come up and it is amazing how quickly things are taken care of and the research opportunities and mentors are second-to-none. If you have questions about the program specifically please don't hesitate to reach out!

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Derek Wong

Derek Wong
  • Entering Class: 2017
  •  PhD program: Pathology/Immunology
  •  Advisor: Undecided
  •  Research Interests: My current research interests primarily include cancer immunology, but they are also quite broad and encompass other aspects of cancer biology. In the past, my research areas have included the use of nanoparticles for cancer therapy or diagnosis, as well as drug resistance in breast cancer.
  •  About Me: I really enjoy photography and exploring the creative things I can do with my camera. Nature and city sights are particularly interesting to me, and I have thousands of photos in my Lightroom catalog from the places I have visited. I also enjoy hiking, science fiction, and dabbling in short stories and sketching.Comment about the MSTP Program: One of the things I appreciate most about the program is how well it integrates with the MD curriculum while still granting us the flexibility to choose our lab rotations and grad school courses. The intro course in the summer helped us to adjust to the program and find our first lab just as Block 1 picked up. Fitting in a rotation during coursework, while challenging at times, was more than doable, with start and end dates that fit our individual needs. I found valuable assistance from the directors and other faculty in planning my first grad school course and subsequent rotations, so despite my many interests, I never felt truly lost or without guidance.

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