Physician Scientist
Student Symposium

Exploring Careers as a Physician Scientist

Register now for FREE!


The Massachusetts Physician Scientist Student Symposium is a student-organized event aimed at bringing together MD-PhD and research-track MD students, faculty, as well as undergrads in the Northeast region interested in a physician scientist career. This event is co-organized by students from Massachusetts, including the Boston University, Tufts, University of Massachusetts, and HMS/MIT MD/PhD and MD programs. We are co-sponsored by APSA, the NIH diversity grant, BU School of Medicine (venue and infrastructure support), Journal of Clinical Investigation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Registration is open to all interested participants at all institutions regardless of APSA membership. Click HERE to register. Registration for the conference is FREE for all attendees.


Saturday December 1, 2018

Dress Code: Business Casual

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

10:00 AM - 10:10 AM
APSA Introduction

10:10 AM - 10:50 AM
Keynote Presentation: Dr. Loren Walensky

10:50 AM - 11:20 AM
Student Flash Talks

11:20 AM - 12:00 PM
Keynote Presentation: Dr. Arlene Sharpe

12:00 PM - 12:50 PM
Lunch Break

12:50 PM - 1:30 PM
Keynote Presentation: Dr. Vasan Ramachandran

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Student Flash Talks

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Breakout Sessions

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Student Flash Talks

4:00 PM - Infinity
Post-meeting Happy Hour


In lieu of a poster session, we are asking attendees to send a graphical abstract along with the registration. We will print these in a booklet so that students can share their research in small group sessions. For some examples, see the Cell Press guidelines, though we do not expect such formal illustrations.

Keynote Speakers

Arlene Sharpe

Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD is the George Fabyan Professor of Comparative Pathology and Co-Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. She is a member of the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, an Associate Member at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and Co-Director of the Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Sharpe earned her A.B. from Harvard University and her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard Medical School. She completed residency training in Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is board certified in Anatomic Pathology. Dr. Sharpe has served as a member and chair of the NIH Hypersensitivity, Autoimmunity and Immune-mediated diseases (HAI) study section and as a member of the NIAID Council. She also served as President of the American Association of Immunologists from 2016-2017.

Dr. Sharpe is a leader in the field of T cell costimulation. Her laboratory has discovered and elucidated functions of T cell costimulatory pathways, including the immunoinhibitory functions of the CTLA-4 and PD-1 pathways, which are targets for cancer immunotherapy. Her laboratory currently investigates roles of T cell costimulatory pathways in cancer, autoimmunity, and infection. Dr. Sharpe has published over 300 papers and was listed by Thomas Reuters as one of the most Highly Cited Researchers (top 1%) in 2014-2018 and a 2016 Citation Laureate. She received the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Tumor Immunology in 2014 and the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize in 2017 for her contributions to the discovery of PD-1 pathway. Dr. Sharpe is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.

Loren D. Walensky

Loren D. Walensky, MD, PhD is a Principal Investigator and Attending Physician in the Department of Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Harvard/MIT MD-PhD Program.

Dr. Walensky’s research focuses on the chemical biology of deregulated apoptotic and transcriptional pathways in cancer. The goal of his laboratory is to develop an arsenal of new compounds - a “chemical toolbox” - to investigate and block pathologic protein interactions. To achieve these objectives, his group takes a multidisciplinary approach that employs synthetic chemistry techniques, structural biology analyses, and biochemical, cellular, and mouse modeling experiments to systematically dissect the signaling pathways of interest. Dr. Walensky has broken new ground in our understanding of BCL-2 family protein interactions, which govern the critical balance between cellular life and death. His team has generated highly specific and stable “stapled peptides” that preserve the structure of biologically-active alpha-helices, maximizing their potential as novel tools to elucidate biological pathways and as prototype therapies for cancer. His research contributed to the founding of Aileron Therapeutics, which is currently testing in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials a first-in-class stapled peptide drug to reactivate p53 in cancer, developed based on Dr. Walensky’s work.

Dr. Walensky is the recipient of numerous awards including a Stand Up to Cancer Innovative Research Grant, an NIH Director’s Transformative RO1 Award, a Burroughs Wellcome Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences, a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar Award, a Harvard Medical School Young Mentor Award, and most recently, the E. Mead Johnson Award for Pediatric Research and an NCI Outstanding Investigator R35 Award. In addition to his cancer chemical biology research, Dr. Walensky is deeply committed to pediatric oncology care as a hematologic malignancy specialist, and to training the next generation of physicians and scientists.

Vasan S. Ramachandran

Vasan S. Ramachandran, MD, FACC is the Principal Investigator and Director of the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), Director of the FHS fellowship program in cardiovascular epidemiology, Chief in the Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology in the Department of Medicine at BUSM, and Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at BUSM/BUSPH.

Dr. Ramachandran is a trained cardiologist with subspecialty training in echocardiography and has a long-standing commitment to clinical epidemiological research. He has worked at the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term ongoing cardiovascular cohort study, as a senior investigator for over 20 years. The Framingham Heart Study has been hailed one of the most important epidemiological studies of our time and has gained global recognition in its scope and duration, with over a thousand papers published based on the findings of the Framingham Heart Study. Dr. Ramachandran’s work as Principal Investigator has focused on the epidemiology and novel risk markers of CHF, population-based echocardiography, genetic/omic determinants of cardiac structure and function, and detailed assessment of novel biomarkers of CVD risk, risk prediction, subclinical atherosclerosis and genomics of CVD traits.

In addition to his significant contributions in cardiovascular epidemiology, Dr. Ramachandran has also been recognized for his mentorship of trainees. He has supervised over 60 trainees over the past 20 years and has received Outstanding Mentor awards from the Department of Medicine, BUSM, and the AHA Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and the prestigious AHA Population Science Award in 2014.







Planning Committee