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Student broadens his scientific knowledge

Annual Report - Winter 2013

Mary Jane Schier

The path that Chien-Hung Chen, Ph.D., followed to figure out his career goals started while pursuing a master’s degree in life sciences at the National Tsing Hua University in his native Taiwan.

“My master’s degree adviser was a great role model who encouraged me to come to the United States for advanced scientific studies,” Chen says.

Dos Sarbassov, Ph.D. (left), mentors several young
investigators like Chien-Hung Chen, Ph.D., as they pursue
research questions.
Photo: Wyatt McSpadden

When he was accepted as a research intern at 
MD Anderson in 2005, Chen was thrilled. Then, two years later, he enrolled in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS), a joint partnership of MD Anderson and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). He recently earned his Ph.D. in cancer biology.

His fervor for conducting formidable laboratory research amazes his mentor, Dos Sarbassov, Ph.D., assistant professor in 
MD Anderson’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology.

“From the first day, he has demonstrated a real passion for research. It’s been a pleasure to be his mentor throughout his GSBS studies and now as he continues as a postdoctoral fellow in my laboratory,” Sarbassov says.

Chen won several GSBS awards for his research focusing on the role of the mTOR pathway in cell signaling, including the Presidents’ Research Scholarship and the Andrew Sowell-Wade Huggins Scholarship. The former is funded by MD Anderson President Ronald DePinho, M.D., and UTHealth President Giuseppe Colasurdo, M.D.


The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences has:

  • 543 students
    • 432 Ph.D.
    • 30 in combined M.D./Ph.D. programs, others pursuing master’s degrees
  • 580 faculty
    • 367 from MD Anderson with active teaching appointments

Sarbassov opens lab to Kazakhstan trainees

By Mary Jane Schier

Dos Sarbassov, Ph.D., was considering becoming an ichthyologist (fish farmer) when a teacher suggested he switch to scientific research.

Born and educated through college in Kazakhstan, he obtained his doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and then took postgraduate training at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass. He joined MD Anderson in 2006.

“I was fortunate to have wonderful mentors … and am trying to pay that forward by helping students training in my lab,” Sarbassov notes. The assistant professor in MD Anderson’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology has served on several Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student committees. He also trains visiting graduate students from Kazakhstan.

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