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Deborah O

- Research Program Mentor

MD at Duke University


Psychology, Neuroscience, Pre-Medical Studies, Health & Medicine


I am an internal medicine physician and aging researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles where I investigate cognitive impairment in older adults. I also carry various institutional roles related to student and faculty recruitment, curricular reform, and trainee wellness, and have received national recognition for my work from organizations like the American Geriatrics Society, Kaiser Permanente, and National Medical Fellowships. I graduated with distinction in Psychology/Neuroscience from Yale University, received my medical degree from Duke, and completed primary care internal medicine residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

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.

Medicine & The Human Body:

If your project involves taking a deeper dive into a part of the body or subspecialty within medicine, I am the mentor for you. Want to be a cardiologist? We can create a public awareness campaign around heart health, and in the process have you learn about how the heart works, options for diagnosing and treating heart disease, and its profound impact on the America’s healthcare system and economy.

Neuroscience and Neurodegenerative Disease:

Are you interested in dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Do you want to learn more about the brain? I research the brain for a living, and can mentor you through your project, whether it be a blog or a research paper. You will learn how memories are formed and get up-to-date information on all of the amazing research happening in the world of Alzheimer’s disease.

Coding skills


Languages I know


Teaching experience

I am a physician and clinical researcher with over a decade of experience in writing, education, and mentoring. I was a program coordinator and instructor with PALS Tutoring and Mentoring for the greater New Haven area as an undergraduate at Yale for 4 years, then taught professionally in the metro Atlanta area before pursuing medicine. I have instructed in english, math and the sciences (biology, physics, chemistry) from the elementary to AP and College level. I previously mentored students through the college and medical school admissions process as well. Since starting with Polygence in 2020, I have mentored 10+ students through projects ranging from published literature reviews to podcasts.


Work experience

Yale-New Haven Health (2020 - 2023)
Resident Physician, Internal Medicine
Duke Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development (2017 - 2020)
CTSI Researcher
University of California, Los Angeles (2023 - Current)
National Clinician Scholar


Yale University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2015)
Duke University
MD Doctor of Medicine (2020)


"Deborah is a fantastic mentor, and I appreciate her constant support while completing my blog. Our communication was sound, and she was very flexible with scheduling our one-on-one sessions. Deborah was always willing to answer any questions I had, and I loved getting to know her throughout our sessions. She provided me with materials that I used to complete my blog, and her depth of knowledge in human memory helped sharpen each post. Her feedback on my writing was always constructive, and I am proud of my completed work. With this project, I was able to dive into neuroscience, a field I hope to pursue. Working with Deborah has made me more excited to continue with research in the future."

Brigid from Pearl River, NY

"Deborah has been a wonderful mentor to work with; she always provided plenty of materials and papers to guide me and I've loved getting to know her! During the learning about Alzheimer's and dementia stage (first five sessions), she always gave me interesting supplemental readings (TIME magazine articles and other papers) and readily answered any questions I had, whether it be during our meetings or through messages. She's been so helpful in my research review paper writing process, from editing to suggesting and giving constructive feedback. Thanks to Deborah, I'm really content with the progress I've made with my paper during and outside of all our sessions!"


"Polygence was an overall great experience. I went into the program having a relatively vague interest in neuroscience and cognitive disorders, but with the help of my mentor and the resources she provided me, I was able to explore aspects of Alzheimer's and dementia that I have never considered before. Polygence helped me pursue my passions in a creative and thought provoking way and I would 100% recommend it."


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