Adriana Gonzalez selected for Hopkins MD-PhD Program


Each year over 500 students apply to the Medical Scientist Training Program, a combined MD-PhD program at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The highly competitive program selects an average class size of 16 students. Meet Adriana Gonzalez, a second year PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, who is among the select group of applicants accepted to the program for 2020. Adriana conducts her research in the lab of Feilim Mac Gabhann, associate professor of biomedical engineering, at the Institute for Computational Medicine.  

What drew you to the MD-PhD program?

My research interests have always been translational in nature, and so when I took Anatomy alongside medical students in my first year, something clicked for me. I wanted to make sure I was involved in the application of my research every step of the way, especially in the direct impact to patients. That, and a serious pleasure in the detective work of the diagnostic and treatment processes, motivated me to pursue the MD in addition to my PhD. 

What are your career goals? How does your current research in your PhD program and your focus in the MD-PhD program fit into those goals?

For now, I want to pursue a career in academic medicine. My current research focuses on developing and extending a computational model of HIV dynamics in diverse patient  populations with the aim of personalizing treatment for individuals. Connections to medicine for this project are easily apparent, but I’m really excited about the flexibility that computational research gives me in terms of my medical interests. I hope to be able to find a specialty that I love (which could be infectious disease) and build models that improve patient care. 

Is there anything else in your background or experience that is relevant to this achievement?

A priority for me as a researcher and teacher is mentorship, especially for those traditionally underrepresented in science and medicine. I’ve been working on outreach and mentorship since I arrived at Hopkins, and I’m excited to see how I can expand upon that as I enter medical school and beyond. As a clinician, I want to be a comforting face for marginalized patients as well. I grew up in deep south Texas where a significant portion of the population speaks only Spanish, and I heard from my father, a family practice physician, how he connected with patients who had never had the chance to speak to their physician without a barrier before. I hope my experiences as a Latina will allow me to be more empathetic with patients and mentees of all backgrounds.  

JHU - Institute for Computational Medicine