Drew Dolino - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Program

Drew Dolino, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

As a native Houstonian, Drew Dolino was well aware of the numerous universities he could attend for graduate education. It was the distinguished faculty and rotation opportunities that led him to The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston.

At 27, Drew’s already earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of St. Thomas and pursued medical school. He is entering his third year of the GSBS doctoral program in biochemistry and molecular biology.

“Science is my passion,” he says with an unapologetic grin.

The biochemistry and molecular biology program consists of three semesters in the classroom and the remainder of time is spent in the lab. By the completion of their first year, students have rotated through two or three labs before selecting their permanent lab. After two other rotations, Drew chose the lab of Vasanthi Jayaraman, Ph.D., at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.

Despite the demanding curriculum and competitive atmosphere, the students are a close-knit group.

“Our student population is one of the smaller ones, so we’ve developed very close friendships with each other,” says Drew, who often brings baked goods for his classmates. Student representatives organize outings outside of class like dinner and bowling. The program staff also provides social and professional development opportunities, which Drew feels is significant to their overall development.

“Even if you come in not as skilled or experienced as other people, the program will train you to be an excellent scientist by the time you finish,” says Drew. “Don’t worry about how you start off. You will be trained, as long as you put in the work.”

Drew’s current research focuses on ionotropic glutamate receptors, such as the AMPA and NMDA receptors, and takes two approaches: one on drug design and another that focuses on understanding the receptors’ structure-function relationships. His publication, “Luminescence Resonance Energy Transfer to Study Conformational Changes in Membrane Proteins Expressed in Mammalian Cells,” was featured in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, a peer-reviewed scientific video journal.

He’ll have a chance to explore these topics further thanks to a fellowship earned through the Gulf Coast Consortium. Eventually, Drew’s findings could be used to better understand and treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.