JMU research experience leads 2013 alum to Chicago, Cambridge

Science and Technology

by Eric Gorton


Undergraduate research experience is paying off in a big way for 2013 JMU alumnus Michael Metrick.

Metrick, who graduated cum laude with degrees in biotechnology and chemistry, was recently accepted into an MD/PhD Partnership Training Program run by the National Institutes of Health and the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Metrick will begin his medical studies in August at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After two years of medical school, he will do his doctoral work at Cambridge and NIH. Anticipating that will take four years, Metrick plans to return to UIC for the final two years of med school in 2021 and then apply for a medical residency.

Head shot of Michael Metrick"I owe a large portion of my success in scientific application to JMU and the opportunities that I was afforded by the university." — Michael Metrick ('13)

"I've always been interested in protein misfolding disorders, primarily those leading to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's," he said. "I will likely pursue a basic science lab aiming to study the fundamentals of those disorders."

After graduating from JMU, Metrick remained at the university for a year as a post-baccalaureate researcher in the lab of Dr. Gina MacDonald, professor of chemistry and his research mentor. "That allowed me to conceive and progress a research project to a second publication studying the Hofmeister effect on protein solvation and thermal stability," he said.

Since then, he has taken the Medical College Admission Test and worked as a researcher at the National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland.

"I owe a large portion of my success in scientific application to JMU and the opportunities that I was afforded by the university," Metrick said.  "I feel so fortunate to have wandered into Gina MacDonald's office one September afternoon to inquire about her research.  She was so incredibly enthusiastic and welcoming. I had heard horror stories of gaining a research position at other universities, but this was all too easy. The combination of research accessibility and an enthusiastic mentor really made my time at JMU unique."

MacDonald, in a letter of recommendation for Metrick, stated: "I feel beyond lucky to have had Michael join my group.  Michael is self-motivated, intelligent and he loves science, experiments and learning about everything!" She also noted that Metrick "is able to generate and analyze data and present his science in written and oral formats at a level that is consistent with many advanced graduate students."

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Published: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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