Jamie Kwon

Developing a blood-based miRNA biomarker for oropharyngeal cancer
Cathie Garnis, Eitan Prisman
North Vancouver
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I was first exposed to clinical and biomedical research through a UBC undergraduate co-op placement with my current co-supervisor Dr. Eitan Prisman. I saw the transformative power of interdisciplinary research to advance patient care in ways I never imagined, and had opportunities to spearhead various unique projects. With the encouragement and support from the Prisman Lab at the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, I was inspired to continue contributing to these projects by pursuing a master's degree.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

The opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration at UBC were a key deciding factor. I was fortunate to work with a team of experts from a variety of seemingly disconnected fields such as engineering, pathology, and radiation oncology. Being part of a robust team, I gained a deeper appreciation of the synergistic potential when diverse expertise converges with a shared goal.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The Experimental Medicine program is home to students who work on a wide range of projects. It's great to be able to connect with friends who are exploring so many different topics. This diversity has opened up new opportunities for me to learn about various research areas at UBC and helped me think about my project in new ways and see how different projects can be linked together.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The multicultural atmosphere. It's amazing to see all the diverse cultures, especially through the variety of international cuisines that offer a taste of the world right here in Vancouver!

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

The mentorship and support from the teaching team during my undergraduate studies at UBC created an environment that encouraged curiosity, exploration, and skill development in teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving. I think these experiences equipped me with the knowledge and abilities to tackle the challenges I face in my graduate studies.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Cultivate a network of support, not just for academic collaboration, but also for the much-needed coffee breaks and adventures. Don't underestimate the power of a good conversation with someone outside your field—it can spark innovative ideas and broaden your perspective.


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