Alumni Testimonials

What do our alumni have to say?

MS Students

“Having worked for 4 years after undergrad, Georgetown’s Systems Medicine program was
exactly what I needed to move forward in my career in a meaningful way. In addition to core
coursework on topics such as biomedical informatics, biostatistics, and metabolomics, I was
able to tailor my experience through electives such as structural biology and medical
biochemistry. During lectures from renowned leaders in both medicine and industry, I was
able to participate in countless eye-opening discussions on the challenges that we face in
medicine and the innovations that are being developed to tackle them. The Systems
Medicine program had a huge influence on my passions and intellectual interests and
significantly honed my ability to ask probing questions and brainstorm ways to solve complex
problems. Importantly, I had the great privilege of having these academic experiences
alongside a diverse cohort of peers. Both in and outside of class time, everyone was so
willing to support each other and help each other learn, and it truly felt like a family. I made
lifelong friendships during my time here, and I am extremely excited to see what everyone
goes on to accomplish in the future.

Spearheading our program is Dr. Sona Vasudevan, who has been not only a valuable
mentor, but also a true advocate for each one of us. Dr. Vasudevan connected me with
research opportunities that allowed me to add new skills to my resume, and she encouraged
me to apply for the NIH Graduate Data Science Summer Program, where I was able to apply
my data science/stats background to study memory recall using EEG data and make lasting
relationships with my lab at NIH/NINDS. Though I initially came into the program with plans
to enter industry, my experiences throughout the year have inspired me to pursue further
doctoral training. Dr. V was fully supportive of my decision and she helped me plan out my
next steps regarding applications as well as the gap between graduation and the application
cycle. During this gap, I will be working as a bioinformatics analyst to pursue many of my
passions at once: using innovative data science applications to study inflammatory diseases
like Crohn’s disease. I am forever grateful for Dr. V’s support and wisdom, as well as her
unwavering devotion to both fostering a passion for making a positive impact and to helping
us reach our goals. The Systems Medicine program has been life-changing for me in many
ways, and I now look forward to taking these invaluable experiences with me as I pursue my
endeavors in medicine and research!

Yeonjoo Hwang ’22, MS in Systems Medicine

“Being part of the Systems Medicine program has given me access to resources I never thought were possible, especially coming from a large state school where I was one student in a sea of many. One way Georgetown and the Systems Medicine program have benefitted me was when I casually mentioned my desire to have an international internship experience. This quickly turned into an opportunity to go to Kyoto as a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellow, where I had the opportunity to work on interesting work around identifying a candidate biomarker involved in heart failures in newborns.

On top of the work, being in Japan exposed me to a culture I had only heard about in the media before and pushed me out of my comfort zone, especially since I only had three Japanese lessons before arriving. Despite only being in Japan for a summer, I made lasting relationships with the other students and researchers in the lab and we continue to have a collaborative relationship. Thanks so much to the Systems Medicine program!”

Cutler Simpson ’22, MS in Systems Medicine

“After graduation I wanted to find a way to combine my interest in bioinformatics and my passion for medicine. My answer came in the form of Georgetown’s Systems Medicine program. The program was all I wanted and even more. The curriculum encompasses a diverse group of topics like biomedical informatics, innovation, and the microbiome. The bonus was that we were also able to hear from the leaders of the field and learn about the most recent discoveries.

I also enjoyed the learning and social environment that Systems Medicine had offered. The interdisciplinary nature of the program resulted in my cohort coming from a variety of different backgrounds. Their unique perspectives showed me different facets of medicine and everyone was very supportive of each other. Likewise, faculty were also supportive and very willing to help whenever there was a problem or question.

I am looking forward to bringing all that I have learned from the Systems Medicine program into my medical school journey. I hope to encourage others interested in medicine to take a look at systems medicine, because it truly is the future of medicine. If you want to be a part of the next revolution in medicine then the Systems Medicine program is perfect for you.”

Arthi Bala ’22, MS in Systems Medicine

“Choosing the Systems Medicine program at Georgetown University is the best decision I have made in my life. The program has not only introduced us the cutting-edge biomedical research, but also is an amazing opportunity to learn and connect with some of the most prominent scientists and physicians. As someone who had always wondered how bench research would practically apply to and benefit clinical settings, I found Systems Medicine is the program where the two are connected perfectly.

This one-year master’s program provides student the perfect amount of time to learn and obtain important knowledges and hands-on skills in fields such as bioinformatics, cancer genomics, and biostatistics, which are all incredibly useful and valuable in the burgeoning field of biochemistry and informatics. Moreover, the unique program curriculum including panel discussion and personalized capstone internship has not only challenged me to grow into an inquisitive scientist, but also has inspired me to critically think in a whole new dimension. The program has shaped my aspirations to do research, as well as helped me determine the specific research field I want to pursue in the future.

Our program director, Dr. Sona Vasudevan, and all the other faculty members are fully invested in each one of us and work tirelessly to help us reach our goals. Their dedication, love, compassion, and great examples have truly made the program one of its own kind on this entire planet, and the immense love and support coming from the Systems Medicine family are the reasons I excel with confidence no matter where I go or what I choose to do in life.”

Jingyu Wu ’22, MS in Systems Medicine

“I have had a wonderful time being a part of the Systems Medicine program over this past year. I am so grateful for all the guidance I have received from all of our professors. As students, we owe all of our success to our program director, Dr. Vasudevan, who has provided individualized attention to every student, is always available for her students, and strives to help make each student’s aspirations into reality.

Throughout this program, I have learned that systems medicine is a field that integrates multiple levels of information to develop a more comprehensive understanding of a disease and what may be the most suitable, personalized approach for caring for an individual patient. I have learned how systems medicine can be applied through studying gene mutations relevant to cancer or another disease, as well as integrating various analyses describing effects on the DNA, RNA, metabolome, microbiome, epigenetic factors, and structure. We have also had the opportunity to speak with researchers and medical professionals applying systems medicine to their work, including how pharmacogenomics can play a role in identifying effective therapies for patients. I have realized how the combination of these data-oriented approaches can make medical care more targeted and thus more beneficial for patients. This innovative approach to science and medicine was supplemented with thought-provoking discussions in nearly every class lecture as well as outside the classroom among peers and lecturers.

The internship was also pivotal for applying all the training we have received from all of the classes, including conducting biostatistics analysis using R, querying databases for relevant biological information, and critically reading and discussing scientific literature. In my particular project, I was able to develop and enhance my wet lab and computational skills in a project studying African
American men with advanced prostate cancer. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to engage in this field of cancer research. The diversity of internship projects students worked on is an indication of the broad application of the skills we have developed over this program.

Joining this program was the best decision I have made to date, and I am excited to apply all that I have learned in my research endeavors in the future!”

Shanta Murthy ’22, MS in Systems Medicine

“I am beyond grateful that I decided to join Georgetown’s Systems Medicine program. As someone who wanted to learn about medicine and biology but had no idea where I wanted to take my career, I can honestly say that the program opens your eyes to an entirely new side of medicine. The program is interdisciplinary and teaches us how to combine big data science with biology in order to use computational tools to achieve personalized medicine and healthcare. We learned about all of the levels of biology including genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, the microbiota, public policy, and more in a systems approach to medicine and healthcare.

The Systems Medicine faculty are truly the driving force behind the program. Each student gets a personalized experience and a very hands-on connection with the encouraging staff members. They gave consistently enriching lectures and were eager to provide us with additional resources or opportunities. We truly felt like a systems medicine family.

During my time in the program, I was mentored by a faculty member in the Department of Medicine where I learned how to use R programming to statistically analyze differences between disease groups and find driving variables between those differences. I am now working as a bioinformatics consultant where I will be using my analytical skills to help improve strategic innovations in the health sector of the federal government.”

Alison Amar ’21, MS in Systems Medicine

“Enrolling in the Systems Medicine program was the best decision I’ve ever made. The program has opened my eyes to a new side of medicine, and it has shaped my passion and understanding of a systems approach to health. If there is anything that we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that medicine is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Diseases manifest differently based on a variety of environmental and genetic factors, and this program helps you gain an understanding of this phenomenon.

In addition to the interdisciplinary curriculum, the faculty are invested in your success not only as a student, but also as a researcher, individual, and leader in the Georgetown community. It is important to know that you are joining a family. The faculty is committed to the long-term success of their students, and they will personalize your experience and go out of their way to help you reach your academic and professional goals.

The knowledge and skill sets that I developed throughout my time in the program have been invaluable so far in my professional career. During my capstone internship, I was mentored by the chief medical information officer at MedStar Health. I learned about pharmacogenomics and its utilization in clinical care, and my project findings provided statistical, real-world evidence for the potential need to implement genotype-guided therapy in a specific patient population. I was able to work alongside physicians and pharmacists to use my Systems Medicine mindset to craft, carry out, and present research that utilized clinical data to improve patient health outcomes.

The Systems Medicine program has provided me with amazing opportunities and an ability to contribute to solving 21st-century medical challenges. I am now working at the FDA as a bioinformatics data analyst, where I am using the skills that I gained from this program to advance precision medicine. I am forever thankful for the faculty and my Systems Medicine family. This program was truly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

Collin Campbell ’21, MS in Systems Medicine

“When covid took over our last months of college, I was filled with sentiments of worry and fear. I sent in my Systems Medicine application, not knowing what my future was holding, not knowing if my friends and family would be safe, and especially not knowing what systems medicine was. Little did I know that this program would not only change the way I view medicine but change my perspective towards life in general. My time in the program was highlighted by outstanding professors, advisors, and mentors whose unwavering dedication to our success lit a flame of inspiration within each of us students. The continued investment by the faculty made the Systems Medicine program not only an educational experience but an environment that fostered growth, development, and bonding. Instead of students, we became a family growing together.

The interdisciplinary teachings of Systems Medicine exposed us to novel practices that have revolutionized personalized disease risk and management. Through analyzing the proteomic, metabolomic, and transcriptomic levels and their complexities within disease pathology, I was shown the differences in treatment of an individual rely on a patient’s uniqueness. Taking these disciplines into account has tremendously helped my current research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where I now work. The skills and understanding of in-depth systems biology have allowed me to draw many inferences that have benefited my time at the NIH.”

Chaitan Mishra ’21, MS in Systems Medicine

“The Systems Medicine program is a truly unique program that offers students exposure to study and learn at the intersection of clinical care, research, and data. It offers a personalized experience within the larger Georgetown University Medical Center ecosystem for students to explore their interests and find a niche at the frontier of healthcare.

The Systems Medicine program enabled me to develop a new skill set that is incredibly relevant for the future of patient-centered care. While acknowledging the importance of clinical and genomic data integration, the Systems Medicine program helped me to establish a foundation of a preventative, predictive, personalized approach to healthcare. I was able to work within a team of radiation oncologists at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital to explore sociodemographic factors that impact Stage IV breast cancer presentation in the United States. From this experience, I came away with a new skill set and familiarity with clinical informatics. Simultaneously, I was exposed to complexities of data sharing, access to care, and differences in outcomes. 

Despite the disruption to a virtual learning environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, our professors maintained the rigor of the curriculum and commitment to supporting us in our next steps. Classes were transitioned online seamlessly to ensure continuity of instruction and learning.”

Rhea Bhatt ’20, MS in Systems Medicine

“For someone like me who has always been fascinated by science, the Systems Medicine program was a precious gift for advancing my career. Georgetown University’s “cura personalis” approach is the essence of this program. It is recognized in medicine that the “one-size-fits-all” approach can be improved upon, but it is easier said than done. Who would have thought this point will come out so forcefully in the search for competing medications, and their varied effects on patients, to stop the spread of COVID-19? One of the hallmarks of this program is its strong emphasis on the cura personalis approach to thinking about medicine and the courses are aligned with this idea. Course work covers -omics and its interaction with external factors such as microbiota, environment, and diet in different disease studies, and analyzing BIG Data using informatics concepts and machine learning with tools such as R using publically available databases. Critical reading of research articles and biomolecular structural studies is emphasized. Lectures by several eminent scientists gave me a view of what is happening at the frontiers. Our Director and my mentor, Dr. Vasudevan, taught me invaluable skills that allowed me to be employed as an informatics analyst at the prestigious Emory University’s Pediatric Department and work for a renowned scientist and physician. Without the Systems Medicine program, this would not have been possible for me.” 

Sushma C. Maddipatla ’19, MS in Systems Medicine

“The Systems Medicine program at Georgetown was an amazing experience and taught me so much about aspects of precision medicine that I had never even heard of before. Dr. Vasudevan is the best advisor I have ever had, and she makes the program what it is. I always get questions about the Systems Medicine program during my interviews and I know that doing this program has helped my career.”

Haris Pepermintwala ’19, MS in Systems Medicine

“Studying Systems Medicine was one of their best decisions I have made for my medical career. The Georgetown Community and resources made available are a true privilege and second to none. The faculty of this program is extremely considerate and invested in not only student success during the program but also the long-term success and fulfillment of student goals. As a current medical student Systems Medicine has advanced the way that I am able to consider and understand the material I learn. Thinking about medicine in the context of big data, and regarding the social and ethical issues that face the field with an understanding of a systems perspective allows me to have a unique point of view.

This program has majorly shaped my aspirations in practicing medicine and has opened up doors to amazing opportunities, networks of people, and lasting relationships with mentors and classmates. During medical school interviews, my studies were a major topic of interest and discussion because this program made me stand out as a candidate, by offering me a perspective that is unique to Systems medicine students. As technology and the data that follows rapidly advances and accumulates systems medicine is more and more so necessary for health professionals to serve efficiently and optimally. Bridging the gaps between disciplines, operating platforms, and issues is the power that comes with systems medicine. Understanding patients thoroughly on a scientific basis through the “omics” such as genomics, metabolomics allows us to advance our ability to truly deliver precision medicine. I am forever thankful and connected to my Systems Medicine family!”

Brandon Buonaiut ’19, MS in Systems Medicine

“Healthcare providers possess incredible skills to prevent, heal, and manage diseases, and this is something that I have always dreamed of doing. However, when I found that there is still much we do not fully understand in the clinical realm despite past scientific successes and rapidly growing technologies, I realized that we have a long way to go before we can truly provide precise and effective care to all. My degree in Systems Medicine has armed me with the necessary tools and knowledge that I need to face uncertainties head-on and provide meaningful, inclusive care to patients as a future nurse practitioner.”

Arezo Aziz ’19, MS in Systems Medicine

“The Systems Medicine Program at Georgetown University provides courses covering almost every aspect we need to fill the gap between bench work and clinical practice. We have Introduction to Genomic Medicine to learn about how genetics interferes with medical decisions such as prescription selection, screening tests for different people, prediction model guided treatments; Biomedical Informatics to learn about different information resources used by the healthcare providers, how different systems are intergraded to clinics and how we can improve them; we have Structural Biology, Biochemistry to understand principle of biomedicine; Personalized Medicine to learn and practice Omics techniques; different omics application classes (Clinical Metabolomics, Clinical Applications of the Microbiota), informatics classes(Cancer Bioinformatics, Translational Bioinformatics, Clinical Bioinformatics) as well as computational and statistical analysis classes (Machine Learning for Biomedical Data, Application of Biostatistics to “BIG DATA”) to prepare students become omics experts to help to advance medicine. Students graduated from the program can have multiple career choices in the biomedical field. They can go to medical school and become a physician with system thinking, they can become bioinformatician and biostatistician help analyzing biomedical data and translate the biomedical findings, they can become research associates performing the omics-technologies, etc.

I became a medical informatics analyst in a regional health care system after graduation. What I benefit the most from the program is the Biomedical Informatics class I took during the first semester when I joined the program. Thanks to the class, I was exposed to the all the knowledge I would need for my job and cannot learn elsewhere (Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, RedCap, the infostructure of the healthcare system, the privacy, confidentiality and security, mobile health implementation, interoperability, and standards), I became a RedCap Administrator starting to answer phone calls to physicians, pulling data from the EHR for analysis, designing databases for data collection the second day I joined MedStar. People were surprised how I picked up things that quickly, I would say it’s because the Systems Medicine Program had prepared me well to fill this gap between biomedical research and medical practice with system thinking.”

Xu Huang ’19, MS in Systems Medicine

“My time at the Systems Medicine Master’s program was a great learning opportunity to grow and develop my career.  It was a well-rounded and interdisciplinary program that harness the power of different fields to teach students how to draw complex conclusions in the medical field.”

Anas Belouali ’18, MS in Systems Medicine

“I was trying to figure out a way to stay engaged with current topics in the biomedical and healthcare fields, and Systems Medicine helped me achieve just that! I am deeply grateful to Dr. Sona Vasudevan for the extraordinary learning opportunity. Under her leadership, the program had enabled me to gain a better understanding of how clinical data is managed and understood to analyze the health of the individual patient, a leap in providing personalized care to our society.”

Khuyen Mai ’18, MS in Systems Medicine, currently at Georgetown University

“The Systems Medicine program taught me the value of big data and showed me how it can be applied to questions in medicine and translational research. Systems Medicine cemented my interest in pursuing a career in medicine. The program shows students how various -omic fields can be applied in a clinical environment. The Systems Medicine program offered me a variety of opportunities to learn how genomics research is impacting patient care. I was taught skills that were incredibly useful for my career after I graduated.” 

Henry Walch ’18, MS in Systems Medicine

“For someone who is new to the American academic system, Systems medicine and Georgetown gave me all the confidence to pursue higher goals in Healthcare. The program has shaped my aspirations to do research and pursue a medical career.”

Vaishnavi Narayan ’18, MS in Systems Medicine

“I was extremely pleased to be accepted into the Systems Medicine program during my first year of medical school at GUSOM. The courses included everything from Epidemiology to Applied Biostatistics in R to learning how to write a good IRB proposal. It was everything I needed to feel confident that I could meaningfully contribute as a member of a clinical research team, and I have already used many of the skills I learned from this program in real-life research. I remember the first time a PI asked me if I knew how to do a particular kind of data analysis and I could answer, “Yes! They taught me how to do this exact thing in class!” I continue to build on the foundational concepts I learned in this program and still refer back to my notes, presentations, and textbooks today. Doing research is such an important part of building a good CV for residency applications and beyond, and more importantly, I now have the skills I need to be able to formulate my own research questions and to begin finding out the answers.”

Mario Giovianni ’17, MD/MS in Systems Medicine

“For a student looking towards a career in Medical research, the prime question is what program to get a Master’s in. And at such a point in life, the best program would be one that provides an overview of every field in Medicine that requires researchers. The Master’s in Systems Medicine did exactly that. The program perfectly integrates every “Omics” data out there and helps understand every aspect of health care from the molecular level to the Policy level. I was given every opportunity to go out of my way and know more about what is being taught and to perform the best. This program helps transition into any Medical Science and helps us think in multiple dimensions, which is essential for research. One of the biggest exposures that SYSM gave me was the experience of interning under a physician. I worked with Dr. Baranuik at the Central Research Unit, where we interacted with patients and was given real patient data for my project. Connecting with the patients made me realize the power and importance of research. SYSM was my stepping stone to a PhD. If you are driven towards saving lives and making an impact on society, you know this is the right program for you.”

Archana Hari ’17, MS in Systems Medicine

MD/MS Students

“I was extremely pleased to be accepted into the Systems Medicine program during my first year of medical school at GUSOM. The courses included everything from Epidemiology to Applied Biostatistics in R to learning how to write a good IRB proposal. It was everything I needed to feel confident that I could meaningfully contribute as a member of a clinical research team, and I have already used many of the skills I learned from this program in real-life research. I remember the first time a PI asked me if I knew how to do a particular kind of data analysis and I could answer, “Yes! They taught me how to do this exact thing in class!” I continue to build on the foundational concepts I learned in this program and still refer back to my notes, presentations, and textbooks today. Doing research is such an important part of building a good CV for residency applications and beyond, and more importantly, I now have the skills I need to be able to formulate my own research questions and to begin finding out the answers.”

Mario Giovianni ’17, MD/MS in Systems Medicine

“In the traditional curriculum, medical students are not being trained to meaningfully interpret the ‘big data’ that is generated from advanced clinical informatics and ‘-omics’ technologies. I decided to study Systems Medicine in order to be prepared to serve my patients in this data-rich biomedical and clinical environment. Every oncologist and pathologist, and many other types of physician-scientists, will need this training in the near future. For the good of our patients, physicians like me will need to make sense of this data when it crosses our desks…”

Sister Grace Miriam Usala ’16, MD/MS in Systems Medicine

“I believe the masters in systems medicine was the impetus for much of my research interest and activities thereafter. It provided a broad education in the ways that so many factors influence health beyond what is currently employed as diagnostics tests in medicine. In the years since completing my masters’ degrees, I have employed much of the knowledge gained in “omics”, statistics, and bioinformatics to both augment my own research and understand the literature in oncology. I am grateful for the chance to have studied these topics in medical school and have since returned to teach in the program as well.”

Nima Aghdam ’16, MD/MS in Systems Medicine