Most researchers receive their first funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in their early 40’s. Four years into her MD/PhD training program at MCW, Megan Determan reached this career milestone and she hasn’t looked back since. “You really need to focus on what you want and how to get it,” said Determan.
It’s a philosophy that’s working for her. Determan’s work has been published. She has two more papers in process. “MCW has a lot of opportunities to work with all sorts of people on a variety of projects,” she said. Determan has taken advantage of these opportunities in a number of ways. Mentoring other graduate and medical students is one of those ways. “As a mentor you need to work with people on an individual basis. Mentoring has helped me to learn to identify characteristics of the person you are working with quickly, so I can understand what they need,” she said. One of the students she mentored recently received funding from the NIH.
When she’s not mentoring other students, she is developing her research expertise in disease development. Her funding supports her work for the next six years on understanding diabetes caused by a variety of genetic mutations in a single transcription factor. Recognizing Determan had developed expertise in cellular reprogramming, her mentor, Dr. Stephen Duncan, has been facilitating opportunities for her to share that expertise with other labs. Connecting with these collaborators has been a critical component of Determan’s career development. “At MCW it isn’t about competition. I have worked with seven different labs helping them with cellular reprogramming techniques. So far all of the labs have been successful,” she said with pride.
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