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Michael J

- Research Program Mentor

MD candidate at Stanford University


Neuroscience, Neuroanatomy, Microbiology, Cellular Biology, Genetics and Genomics, Cancer Biology, Medicine


Howdy! From a former-Texan-turned-California-lifer, I am so excited to meet you and guide your developing interest in medicine, neuroscience, bioinformatics, or any combination/subset of the above! As a current third year medical student pursuing the Berg Scholars program at Stanford University School of Medicine, I am passionate about exploring neuroscience and neuropathology; by expanding our understanding of nervous system physiology and the etiologies of neurological disease, I hope to augment our ability to develop novel treatments and interventions to improve outcomes for our patients. Personally, my research experiences have ranged from exploring the genomics of metastatic brain cancer to developing machine learning models for predicting opioid dependence after spine surgery. Broadly, I am excited by the prospect of leveraging combined research approaches (basic science, translational, and clinical) to advance the frontier of medicine! Aside from medicine, my primary interests include hiking and road cycling (and Fantasy Football which, in my opinion, should totally be an Olympic sport). From the lush ridges of Hawaii to the rocky coastal paths of Maine, I am always eager to be outdoors and exploring the hard work Mother Nature has put in to create the world we live in today!

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.

Brain Cancer: An Exploration of the Genomic Landscape and Novel Treatment Approaches

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Tumors that develop in the central nervous system present uniquely difficult problems for medical and surgical treatment. Surgical removal is often complicated by nearby brain regions important for daily functioning. The effects of chemotherapy are frequently blunted by the blood-brain barrier preventing drug penetrance into the tumor itself. For decades, our treatments ranged from "good" to "slightly better", leaving us with few options in patients presenting with advanced or recurrent cancers. The past few years, however, have seen an explosion in the study of genomics and epigenomics in our drive towards personalized therapies guided by molecular tumor characterization. Recent discoveries have facilitated the development of novel therapies ranging from immunotherapy to oncolytic viral therapy, emerging options which offer optimism for treating cancers not responsive to traditional cancer treatments. For this project, students will explore the genetics of brain cancers and how understanding molecular pathogenesis may translate to novel therapies. Students will synthesize the current state of the literature in the form of either a review manuscript or a 15-minute presentation.

Stroke: The Science Behind A Dreaded Disease and The Evolution of How We Treat It

From the facial droop to the slurred speech, the hallmark signs of stroke are frightening for both the patient and his/her family. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States; however, even with its sudden nature and potential for lasting neurological damage, stroke has become increasingly treatable and preventable. Advances in our understanding of hemostasis and thrombosis have facilitated development of novel pharmacological agents for stroke prevention and treatment. Emerging surgical devices have led to increasing use of mechanical thrombectomy, the physical removal of a blood clot from within the vessel itself. Stem cell therapies hold tantalizing potential for recovering neuromuscular function in stroke patients. Throughout the course of this project, students will review the science of atherosclerosis and understand how this systemic process can progress to the acute onset of stroke. During this process, students will also explore how increased understanding of the pathogenesis of stroke has contributed to the shifting and advancing therapeutic landscape. The student's findings will be summarized as either a review manuscript or as a 15-minute presentation.

Coding skills

R (proficient)

Languages I know

Chinese (Mandarin)

Teaching experience

In the past, I have spent time mentoring students of all ages. As an undergraduate student, I was appointed as a Teaching Assistant for the popular class "Sleep and Dreams", which was taught by Dr. William C. Dement, a pioneer of sleep medicine and a major figure in the discovery of REM sleep. Throughout this process, I served as a resource for enrolled students by helping them develop independent research investigations into subjects ranging from insomnia to narcolepsy. Currently, I am leading two organized research efforts within the Stanford Neurosurgery department (within the divisions of pediatric neurosurgery and spine surgery) to explore short- and long-term outcomes and to develop machine learning approaches for early prognostication of patient recovery. Among the elements that I take significant pride in is the opportunity to stoke interest in neurosurgery and neuroscience among the younger medical students in these groups!



Stanford University
BS Bachelor of Science (2016)
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Stanford University
MD Doctor of Medicine candidate

Completed Projects

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