Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Student Profile: Jennifer Deger

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Jennifer Deger

Mentors: Joshua Shulman, M.D., Ph.D. and Hugo Bellen, Ph.D., D.V.M.
Undergraduate Major: Neuroscience
Undergraduate School: University of Texas at Austin

Research Interests: Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Why did you choose BCM? Just based on location, BCM is a great institution. Houston has so much to offer in terms of quality of life, and the Texas Medical Center provides unlimited career and educational opportunities. I also really liked the students and faculty of BCM when I interviewed. Everyone is so smart and driven, yet friendly and fun. I knew BCM would provide an excellent environment for my growth as a physician and a neuroscientist, and so far I think I was right! 

What is your Research Interest? I plan to study how memories are formed, how memories are lost, and how Alzheimer’s disease affects memory mechanisms. I’m also interested in how neurons age and what changes take place as a neuron gets older. Why does the brain deteriorate in Alzheimer’s disease, and what can we do to halt or reverse that deterioration? Elucidating the mechanisms behind diseases of the nervous system, identifying therapeutic targets, and implementing therapeutic strategies are my biggest research interests and career goals.

Why did you choose your mentor? I haven't chosen one yet! I've just started my first year of graduate school as I'm writing this. But I'm looking for a mentor who is dedicated, wise, and compassionate.

What aspects of training have been most influential in preparing for your intended career? I'm not entirely sure what parts of my training will be most influential in my future career as I've just started my first year. But so far, learning to work with others and asking for help has been essential. You need to collaborate well to be successful in science. Also, refining my presentation and communication skills is very important to me. I want to be able to compellingly share my ideas and research not only with the scientific community, but also with the general public.

Did Baylor’s location in the Texas Medical Center enhance your experience? Absolutely! The TMC is the NYC of biomedical research. The TMC not only offers abundant research and clinical opportunities, but also an inspiring environment. Walking to and from lab every day I can see and feel the enthusiasm for science and medicine. Also, if you need a good doctor or (hopefully not) acute care, there's no better place to be than the TMC.

What are your career plans? I plan to cure Alzheimer's disease. After that, I'm not sure. Maybe I'll run for president.

What do you enjoy about living in Houston? Houston is a great city. It's bustling and festive like any big city, but it's full of friendly folks like a small town. Any activity or cuisine you can think of is within reach, and you get a lot of bang for your buck here. Also, I'm not a fan of the cold and I don't have to worry about that here.

What advice to you have for prospective students? Work hard, eat your vegetables, and follow your heart. Remember that anything worth doing can be done.