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Meet Gabriel Baccam

Gabriel Baccam
Date: Friday, October 4, 2019

Name of graduate program: Molecular Medicine

Undergraduate institution: University of Iowa

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Lab: Chou-Long Huang

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your graduate degree?

Being from Iowa and having done my undergraduate studies and research at the University of Iowa and Carver College of Medicine, I had been immersed in its culture and its goal to change research and medicine while changing lives. The excellence produced at Iowa attracts people from all over the world and from every walk of life to teach, work, and learn here. My experiences and interactions with my past mentors and the people at Iowa have been extremely rewarding, which gave me the desire to continue my graduate education at the place where it all started.

What type of research are you performing?

Heart failure and sudden cardiac death are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). My project focuses on understanding how patients with CKD develop cardiac hypertrophy, enlargement of the heart, which can lead to heart failure and sudden cardiac death. More specifically, I study how abnormal calcium signaling in the heart leads to cardiac hypertrophy.

What do you hope to do after you earn your degree?

My ultimate goal is to continue in academia and biomedical research as a physician scientist.

What is something that surprised you about the University of Iowa or your graduate program?

I was surprised how much support we get, not only from our mentors and other faculty, but amongst our peers. I feel like the molecular medicine program does a great job in making students feel inclusive in a non-competitive/collaborative environment.

What is your favorite part about being a graduate student?

I have really enjoyed getting to know the people in my program and more specifically my class. They have become a great support system in and outside the lab. They definitely make the high stresses of graduate school easier, and I must say I learn something new from them everyday in regard to both life and science.

Who is your biggest role model and why?

I really pull inspiration from my whole family, but my biggest role models are my grandparents. They worked so hard and have sacrificed so much to give our family the opportunity for a better life. They continue to be passionate about their culture and sharing their culture. This has really inspired and motivated me to find a passion and share my passion with anyone who will listen.

What are some of your personal interests?

I really enjoy cooking, staying active, and spending time with my family and friends. Iowa City also has amazing local restaurants, so my friends and I enjoy going to these places and catching up for dinner in our spare time.

A piece of advice for incoming graduate students.

Branch outside your comfort zone in and outside of the lab. I highly recommend taking advantage of the programming and opportunities put on by the Graduate College or your program. It’s a great way to connect with students in and outside your field in a non-stressful environment. I also recommend going to events through the year in Iowa City! It’s a great place and there is a lot to do!