Randy Chu | Diagnostic Genetics Class of 2015
Meet Randy Chu. The 24-year-old has always been inquisitive, even as a child.
“I used to play with ant piles all day. I’d poke it with a stick to see what happens.”
These days, he’s channeling his curiosity into his studies in diagnostic genetics at The University of Texas MD Anderson School of Health Professions (SHP). The program is currently the only master’s degree offered at SHP.
Randy is part of the program’s first cohort that began in fall 2013. Along with an intense, fast-paced curriculum, students benefit from hands-on opportunities obtained during clinical rotations. The program recently hosted its first Advances in Molecular Diagnostics symposium, which afforded students an opportunity to present their research and listen to lectures given by experts.
Although he feels these experiences have prepared and positioned him well for the future, he’s still aware of his limitations.
“I feel like I know a lot, but at the same time I don’t know anything. I’m respectful of that,” says the Austin native. “It keeps me very humble. I know there’s so much more that I don’t know.”
Randy graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2013 with a bachelor’s in cellular & molecular biology. It wasn’t until he attended an information session on campus that he decided to consider SHP’s diagnostic genetics program as a stepping stone to his next venture, possibly a Ph.D. Currently, he works part-time at MD Anderson’s Sequencing and Microarray Facility.
He’s also completing his thesis, which centers on a comparative genetic analysis of two species of streptococci, Group A and Group C and G strep. Through DNA extraction and genomic sequencing, he hopes to discover the factors that led Group C and G strep to become more virulent and cause infections that were previously attributed to Group A.
Another benefit of the program is that students sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) clinical board certification before graduating. This accomplishment is another factor that makes SHP students strong candidates in the job market, and is required for positions in a diagnostic laboratory.
“We have the know-how of the clinical world and a firm understating of how things work on the basic research side,” Randy notes, explaining that this blend of skills means they’re uniquely poised for lab manager positions.
Randy recalls knowing from the moment he set foot on the MD Anderson campus that this was where he was meant to be.
“As I walked through MD Anderson and the Medical Center, I felt proud. I knew this is the right decision. This is where I should be right now.”