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Julie Nguyen BC’21 Prepared for Success in Medical School, Cancer Research

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on May 26, 2021

Julie NguyenA standout student and researcher who will soon author her first scholarly article, Julie Nguyen BC’21 plans to attend medical school following graduation to continue cancer research. Nguyen earned the distinction of valedictorian and addressed the Class of 2021 at the Bicentennial Commencement Ceremony on May 26, 2021.

“No matter what our futures hold, we will all look back to the mark we’ve made on USciences,” Nguyen said to her classmates. “Our countless efforts have culminated in our successes, and the support we have given each other and received from those around us is astronomical. I look at our graduating class, and I am amazed by the things we have accomplished.”

Julie NguyenNguyen said she attended USciences because of its focus on science and the ability to get involved in research early on in her academic career. But when she arrived she found faculty that were like family and friends who helped each other through every challenge.

“Being a biochemistry major with minors in mathematics and bioinformatics was very daunting at times. There were many times where I was worried I would not be able to balance everything,” said Nguyen. “Everything worked itself out, however, and I not only learned a lot, but also learned how to manage such a rigorous course load. Getting this degree showed me that challenging myself was entirely worth it, and I think this is extremely applicable for countless situations and careers.”

In addition to her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, Nguyen is also a graduate of the Honors Program. She worked as a teaching assistant for several courses including Analytical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Structure and Function in Biochemistry. 

Her research focuses on how the R391W mutation of CRAF activates the signaling pathway in cancer cells. Nguyen conducted this work under the guidance of Zhihong Wang, PhD, associate professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and received support from the USciences Summer Undergraduate Research Fund for this work. Nguyen also had the opportunity to work with Jessica Sautter, PhD, associate professor of medical sociology, to study health literacy of lung cancer patients. She presented her findings at the Gerontological Society of America’s conference. 

Julie Nguyen with Family“These research opportunities allowed me to gain a multidisciplinary view of cancer/oncology, which I think is extremely important in medicine today,” said Nguyen. “I want to especially thank Dr. Wang for wholeheartedly supporting me as both her undergraduate researcher and her student. She pushed me to aim for the stars, and I would not have achieved what I had if not for her guidance.”

In five to 10 years, Nguyen hopes to be completing an internal medicine residency with an eye toward a hematology and oncology fellowship program. She would like to work with patients and conduct research simultaneously. She also hopes to stay close to home in Philadelphia, settling in a city in the Northeast, finding a cozy home with a big garden. Nguyen also hopes to travel the world trying different types of street food!

Categories: News, Students, Alumni, Proven Everywhere, Event, Misher College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biochemistry, Research