profile picture

Vincent P

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at Harvard University


biochemistry, structural biology, cell biology, neuroscience


Hello! My name is Vincent Pham and I am a PhD candidate in the lab of Victoria D'Souza at Harvard University. My research studies the role that RNA structure plays in driving biological function with a particular emphasis on studying RNAs important in HIV, neurodegenerative diseases, and SARS-CoV-2. Before grad school, I graduated from undergrad at Brown University with a degree in biochemistry and a secondary concentration in Africana studies. I've also worked as a teacher, EMT, hospital tech, tutor, and other various odd jobs before starting grad school so there are a lot of interesting stories to tell if you are interested!

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

HIV Transcriptional Regulation

After HIV enters the host's immune cells, it turns its RNA genome into DNA and integrates that into the host's genome. From there, it hijacks the host's transcriptional machinery to produce more copies of itself. HIV does this by mimicking strategies used by the host but co-opts them for its own advantages. There are many players that are involved in this process from both the host and the virus with decades of research on the topic so you can feel free to delve into studying one molecule or the entire process as a whole. Also, this represents the only phase the HIV-1 lifecycle that does not have any current treatment options so we can also explore how we might go about developing treatments.

Brain Invaders!

The blood-brain barrier is one of the most highly regulated parts of our bodies to ensure that harmful substances do not get into the brain. Pathogens have developed a number of strategies to break past these defenses and change an organism's behavior, often for their own benefit. The molecular mechanisms of how a brain-eating amoeba or the creation of real-life zombie organisms are fascinating and still being uncovered and there are plenty of examples of how pathogens manipulate behavior to choose from that we can use to develop really cool creative projects!

Teaching experience

In undergraduate, I was a teaching fellow for biochemistry, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. I've also tutored high school students in SATII Biology and Chemistry subject tests and AP Chemistry and Biology. After college, I worked as an urban education fellow for a year at a charter school in Jamaica Plain for a year. I have also been a teaching fellow at Harvard Extension School in Neuroscience and Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II as well as at Harvard University in the freshman large lecture course Life Science 1a: An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology and the upper level neuroscience course NEURO170/MCB170: Brain Invaders: Building and breaking barriers in the nervous system.


Work experience

Harvard University (2013 - 2015)
Laboratory Technician


Brown University
BS Bachelor of Science (2011)
Biochemistry with a secondary in Africana Studies
Harvard University
ALM Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies (2013)
Harvard University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Interested in working with expert mentors like Vincent?

Apply now