From Bradley to Top Medical School

July 16, 2014

Influential professors; opportunities to conduct research as an undergraduate; outstanding guidance regarding applying to medical school. These are just some of the reasons biology major Will Moser ’14 says his Bradley experience laid a firm foundation for his future.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” the Dixon, Ill., native said of his years at Bradley. “It’s been a great experience, and I feel prepared for the next stage of my education. I’m grateful for the resources I was offered to get to where I am today.”

This fall, Moser will head to the University of Chicago, where he has been accepted into its Pritzker’s School of Medicine. Before departing for the Windy City, he paused to reflect on his Bradley experience.

Moser is particularly grateful for the mentoring of biology professor Dr. Naomi Stover. The pair met when Moser was a freshman and Stover was his advisor. Stover taught several of Moser’s biology classes, and at the end of his sophomore year, Moser approached Stover about working with him in the research lab. He soon became the senior student member of the lab when several of his peers in the lab graduated.

“He was my right hand in the lab and was a mentor to the other students there,” Stover said. “We gave him a great opportunity in which he excelled.”

Stover heads the Tetrahymena Genome Database, funded by the National Institutes of Health, and last summer, Moser assisted him, annotating the database.

Tetrahymena are single-cell organisms with a unique life cycle, which is of interest to researchers studying cancer and aging. The database hosts findings from research labs around the world.

Moser said, “I had been watching this project ever since I came to Bradley because Dr. Stover was my adviser. I frequently would sit in on meetings with computer science students working on the website.”

He also conducted some experiments on his own and presented his findings at an international Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) conference at Steamboat Springs, Colo., last summer. His research focused on a family of mitochondrial proteins associated with tetrahymena. “There has not been a lot of work on these proteins in tetrahymena. I found interesting similarities between the tetrahymena proteins and those of other organisms.”

The research was an extension of an experiment started in the classroom. In his cell biology class, Stover assigned research projects involving the genes in tetrahymena. Moser expanded on the work he and other students did for the class. “Everyone worked a separate project, and at the end I brought it all together, made sure everything was accurate, and did some additional research on top of what we had all done.”

Moser recently experimented with qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction), looking at the cyclin genes in tetrahymena. “The genes come on during conjugation, the reproduction stage of life. It’s interesting in tetrahymena because of their unique nucleus structures. Each cell has two nuclei and because there are two, the conjugation process is complicated with dissolving nuclei and new ones being created.”

He explained that studying cyclin proteins in tetrahymena cells may help us understand their role in human cancer cells, where mutations in these genes can cause disease.

Looking to the future, Moser said he is considering academic medicine so he can be involved in research, work with patients and teach medical students at he same time. He also is interested in neurology. After his second year at the University of Chicago, Moser could apply for the M.D./Ph.D. program at the school. “That would involve a large research project, and if I am accepted, I would like to join a research project in the multiple sclerosis clinic there.”

Moser appreciates his years at Bradley. “I like the size of Bradley. I thought it was big enough for a diverse set of people but small enough that you are not completely washed away in a sea of people.”

He found the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research was invaluable and added, “The connections I’ve found with the faculty would have been much more difficult at a larger institution.”

Moser also appreciated the guidance he received from Dr. Valerie Bennett, director of Bradley’s Pre-Professional Health Advisory Center, who advised him during the process of applying to medical schools.

During his last semester at Bradley, Moser helped Stover in his cell biology class. “I liked it because we use a lot of the same techniques in both cell biology and in the research lab. I could apply my knowledge and expand other people’s knowledge. It added to my drive to be in academic medicine. It was a great experience.”