Eve Privman is an MD/PhD student at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. She is specializing in neuroscience and expects to graduate in 2018. Privman received the Outstanding Research Poster Award at the 47th Annual Meeting of the UVA Medical Alumni Association in 2013.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am from a small college town called Potsdam, NY, up by the Canadian border. My parents are college professors in physics and chemistry, so I grew up surrounded by a passion for science. I graduated with a BS in Chemistry and a BS in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester in 2009, and I have been at UVA ever since. I am in my sixth year of the program.
What is the structure of the MD/PhD program at the University of Virginia School of Medicine?
Students in the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), the NIH-funded MD/PhD program at UVA, complete the first two years of medical school as normal medical students with a couple of extra courses on the side to prepare for the scientific aspects of our career like grant writing and literature review. After taking Step 1 in the spring of the second year, the MSTP students can complete an optional clinical rotation and then join laboratories to complete a PhD with a mentor. The PhD takes students on average 3-5 years.
During these research years, we are encouraged to attend grand rounds and shadow physician scientists to help us narrow down our clinical interests. Then, the students rejoin the medical school and complete their clinical rotations as third and fourth year medical students. In total, the program is 7-9 years long with a stipend provided throughout the program by funding from the NIH and the medical school.
Why did you choose the MD/PhD program at the University of Virginia School of Medicine?
My undergraduate research mentor at the University of Rochester is an alumnus of the UVA MD/PhD program, so he agreed to write me a letter of recommendation for my applications on the condition that I also apply to UVA. When I came here for my interview, I absolutely fell in love with the medical school. The students and faculty all seemed so happy, and the quality of life in Charlottesville was much more appealing than what I would have enjoyed at the other schools I was considering.
What led you to your specific area of concentration?
I am working on my PhD in the Neuroscience Graduate Program. My mentor is Jill Venton, PhD, in the Chemistry Department. I study the release and uptake of dopamine from the central nervous system of fruit flies, which can be used to model genetic diseases like early onset Parkinson’s disease. I have been interested in disorders of the central nervous system ever since my undergraduate studies, and the Venton lab is a great way to use my chemistry and neuroscience backgrounds to investigate a disease-related phenomenon.
What has your experience been like as an MD/PhD student at UVA and how is it preparing you for what you hope to accomplish career-wise in the future?
The MSTP is the perfect training to achieve my goals of working at an academic medical center. I hope to run a basic science laboratory studying the cause of neurological disorders, while treating patients with relevant conditions. The goal of this type of program is to learn to take science “from the bench to the bedside.” My medical training will help me form scientific hypothesis that are important for patient care, and my research will help me stay on the cutting edge of medicine, informing my patient care decisions.
Tell us about your connection with the UVA Medical Alumni Association.
Fun fact about me: I have touched the white coat of every medical student in the classes of 2014-2018! By volunteering for the White Coat Ceremony every year, leading tours on alumni weekend, attending the annual meeting, and serving on the Mulholland Society (the medical student government), I have maintained my ties to the current students in the medical school and made some wonderful alumni connections. That has helped me feel like an active member of the medical school community, even when I am busy doing experiments in the lab.
Read the full interview at: http://UVAMedAlum.org/vitals