Upstate’s Scott Minchenberg was one of only 18 students selected to give an oral presentation at the 29th annual MD/PhD Student Conference in Keystone, Colo.
Scott is in the lab of Professor Paul Massa, PhD, researching the role of a protein in multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease affecting the central nervous system.
Multiple sclerosis is characterized by the destruction of myelin, the insulating layer or sheath of proteins and fat around nerves. The damaged myelin forms scar tissue (sclerosis), which affects signals to the brain and spinal cord.
The Massa Lab project could eventually lead to therapies for the disease. “We have the potential of better understanding the underlying mechanisms of MS,” Scott said.
At the conference in Colorado, Scott gave an oral presentation on his research and talked with MD/PhD students from all over the country. He also met University of Washington professor Mary-Claire King, PhD, the researcher who discovered the BRCA gene linked to some breast cancers.
Scott graduated from Hofstra University on his native Long Island in 2011 and came to Upstate that fall. Like other MD/PhD students, he completed the first two years of the medical school curriculum before entering the three-year PhD phase of the program.
“After I got here, I was amazed by the camaraderie among the students, just how close-knit and helpful everyone is,” Scott said.
A highlight of the MD/PhD program, Scott said, is the one-on-one attention from Principal Investigators. “They’re approachable, and are always available to offer valuable guidance,” he said. “The MD/PhD program is unique. It’s such a small group, and it definitely has a family feel.”
As an undergraduate at Hofstra, Scott was a firefighter and EMT, but he has since allowed his EMT certification to lapse to concentrate on medical school. Away from the lab and the classroom, he’s “embracing” the Upstate New York life – skiing, hiking and other outdoor winter activities.
Scott said his career plan is undecided, but most likely will lead him to academic medicine somewhere in the Tri-State area.