Sadeem Qdaisat | Cytogenetic Technology Class of 2013
Sadeem was a medical student in his home country of Jordan, volunteering at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center sister institution, the King Hussein Cancer Center/Foundation. It was during this time that he learned about the Cytogenetic Technology (CGT) program at MD Anderson’s School of Health Professions (SHP).
Sadeem had a tremendous interest in both genetics and oncology and recognized that the CGT program provided him an opportunity to become immersed in both of these fields. He travelled to Houston to find out more, and says that once he met with the CGT program faculty there was no doubt in his mind that this was a field he wanted to study in depth, and that the best place to do this was at the SHP.
He completed the core credits he needed through the Houston Community College system and entered the CGT program as a senior-level student in 2012. Sadeem feels strongly that CGT program prepares students well for a lifetime career:
“From the start of the program, the CGT faculty prepares you to work as a team member. You are empowered to build a sound foundation of established techniques as well as gaining the experience of working in a high tech environment, where looking for new solutions is only steps away.”
His senior research project was on the topic of bone marrow cultures in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and Sadeem says that this bone marrow culture technique is currently the primary culture method in various hospitals and genetic diagnostic centers in the US and internationally. The project won the MD Anderson Alumni and Faculty Association Undergraduate Award in Clinical Laboratory Cytological Science, and was selected to present MD Anderson SHP at the Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Texas State Capital.
Sadeem was also recognized as a 2013 National Student Honor Award recipient at the American Society for Clinical Pathology annual meeting. Interestingly enough, in 2015, three years after graduation, Sadeem is taking this research a step further with the scientific goal of helping patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
Knowing Sadeem’s research interests, Assistant Professor Vicki Hopwood, the SHP CGT Program Director at that time, recommended that Sadeem further improve his knowledge by requesting to work with Dr. Mong-Hong Lee and Dr. Sai-Ching Jim Yeung in the MD Anderson Molecular and Cellular Oncology department.
The SHP requires all students in the laboratory sciences to participate in an internship during the summer semester of their senior year. For Sadeem this experience opened the pathway to his current field of research:
“During my senior year internship at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, I participated in an Oncology, pre-natal/post-natal/ constitutional cytogenetic clinical rotations. This background prepared me very well for my first employment after graduation as a Clinical Laboratory Technologist in Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, as well as my current position at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.”
After graduating from the CGT program as the outstanding student of the year with Honors in 2013, Sadeem sat for the board exams for both Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetic Technology and passed these exams on the first attempt. Since September 2014, Sadeem has been working in research at the Molecular and Human Genetics Department at the Baylor College of Medicine where he is involved in groundbreaking research in the field of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing—an attempt to recover rare fetal cells from the mother’s blood. Sadeem says he enjoys the daily challenge of this field:
“It’s rewarding to contribute to the greater understanding of genetic abnormality and to hopefully contribute to understanding the effectiveness of early detection and subsequent treatment.”
Sadeem has continued his association with the SHP Cytogenetic Technology program as a Teaching Assistant for both the Cytogenetic Technology undergraduate and the Diagnostic Genetics graduate programs. Currently, he assists with the SHP outreach to high school students through the Duke University Talent Identification Program.
He also contributes his time to presenting information about the CGT program at recruitment fairs in the community along with facilitating cytogenetic technology workshops for San Jacinto Junior College students. He remains a strong advocate of the School of Health Professions, stressing its unique features that include the support of faculty, the depth of practical experience open to students and the readiness of graduates to enter the workforce or to continue their education in a graduate program.