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Geisinger Medical Center, Department of Biomedical and Translational Informatics

Hometown: Boston, MA

Elliot Cha, MBS ’16, believes that the best research is done when you work together as a team, helping out fellow scientists and scholars. After graduation, Elliot became part of such a team at Geisinger Medical Center in the Department of Biomedical and Translational Informatics. He assists the MyCode Community Health Initiative, which links clinical information from electronic health records with genomic information to make discoveries about the genetic architecture of common, complex diseases.

“I jumped in during the middle of a project at Geisinger, but felt completely confident in myself,” Elliot said, crediting Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) program for his current success. He cites the MBS program’s concentration on teamwork with curriculum that includes community health research projects, as well as the intricate knowledge gained from courses such as epidemiology, biostatistics and human genetics. “A pivotal part of my experience was also learning real-world skills during professional development, including creating job-specific cover letters and resumes, preparing for various types of interviews and navigating the medical school application process.”

Elliot chose Geisinger Commonwealth because of its learning environment and the support from faculty, staff and fellow students. “There are a lot of people who can help you. I was so impressed by how much everyone looks out for you.” He specifically thanks faculty member Gregory Shanower, PhD, director of the master’s program in biomedical sciences and assistant professor of molecular biology, who encouraged him to apply for the position at Geisinger. “Dr. Shanower takes the time to make sure you understand information and are prepared to move forward.” Elliot said that students are also lucky to have Youngjin Cho, PhD, assistant professor of cell biology. “Dr. Cho is a great person to go to if you need to put things in perspective. She’s very understanding.”

“My advice to current MBS students is make scheduling and time management a priority. Keep focused and it will lead to good things,” Elliot shares. “To future students, I’d say that the time goes by really fast. Come in to the program mentally prepared to work and learn.”

Elliot is currently applying to medical schools, and ultimately hopes to be a clinician with a strong focus on research and teaching.
Elliot Cha