WNMU Senior Eyes Ph.D./MD after undergraduate research experiences


The highlight of Brenda Prieto’s summer was seeing a mouse being dissected and performing her own dissection.

“This summer, I did research on a complex disease of tuberous sclerosis. It is an autosomal disease that causes cysts in the kidneys which can lead to kidney failure. We looked at ways to stop it and avenues it could attack,” she said.

Through the undergraduate pipeline network, a paid summer research experience at UNM, Prieto—a WNMU dual major in cellular/molecular biology and chemistry—studied mouse kidneys. “What I focused on was extracellular vesicles derived from cystic kidneys. We did electron microscopy to see the vessels and make sure they were properly purified. At the end, we could see the effect on cell growth.

The experience was not his first. In addition to her classes at WNMU, she has spent the past three summers conducting research. Now she dreams of a hands-on senior project in the lab.

Prieto is working toward an eventual MD but is tempted by the option of completing a Ph.D./MD combination because “research is something I would like to do in the future.

She encourages every student to try an undergraduate research experience and even take advantage of opportunities through the WNMU Student Research and Professional Development Program. “I applied to several. It’s not just this one that I applied for,” Prieto explained.


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