Barry's RISE program inspires biology alumnus to pursue MD/PhD

When Max Jean entered Barry University’s Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program as an undergraduate student, his plan was to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology, apply to medical school and pursue a medical degree. After being exposed to Barry’s RISE program, however, he decided to add one more degree to his list – a Ph.D.

“My plan was to always pursue a medical degree,” said Jean, who graduated from Barry in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. “The RISE program opened my eyes to the other side of science and medicine as far as knowing more about what research is and what it entails. Research was something I thought about but didn’t have a good understanding of, and the RISE program allowed me to consider it as part of a future career.”

The RISE program, which was created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) to enhance the research environment at minority-serving institutions, aims to increase the interest, skills and competitiveness of biology and chemistry majors in pursuit of biomedical research careers. RISE students matriculate into Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences.

Jean, who is in his second year in the Medical Scientist Training (MD/PhD) Program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, entered Barry’s RISE program as a sophomore. As part of the RISE program, students are required to maintain a certain GPA; carry out research on-campus with Barry faculty; complete a summer internship at another university; attend and participate in the university’s annual RISE seminar series; and participate and present at regional, national or international conferences.

During his three years as a RISE student, Jean not only fulfilled these requirements but used them as opportunities to gain valuable experience in his field and build an extensive resume with journal publications, conference presentations, clinical shadowing experience, national research and presentation awards, and awards at Barry related to his major and minor, including “Outstanding General Chemistry Student of the Year,” “Outstanding Physics Student of the Year” and “Outstanding Biology Major.”

In addition to conducting research with members of Barry’s biology faculty, Jean also served as a summer research intern for the microbiology department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

After graduating from the RISE program, Jean continued to gain experience in the field by working as a RISE tutor and a laboratory technician for Barry’s biology program. In these positions, he managed supplies, conducted experiments, and tutored biology and chemistry RISE students, among other responsibilities.

Upon graduation from the MD/PhD program, Jean, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in virology, hopes to pursue a career studying and treating infectious diseases.

“At the end of this, I am expecting that I will be very well versed and trained in knowing how to conduct effective and efficient research, and I will be the best doctor I can be.”

For more information about Barry’s RISE program, visit: http://www.barry.edu/rise/

For more information about Barry’s undergraduate biology program, visit: https://www.barry.edu/biology/

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