To support safety and public health during the Covid-19 pandemic, all on-campus events are canceled until further notice.

Name: Marina DiStefano

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Major(s): Molecular Biology and Writing Seminars (Poetry Concentration)

Current job: Variant Scientist at Harvard Medical School/Partners Personalized Medicine

Tell us a little about the path from graduation to your current job/career: I graduated in the spring of 2010 with a double major in biology and writing and transitioned directly to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at UMass Medical school for Ph.D. studies. I defended and graduated in 2016 with a Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine. My thesis investigated the role of lipid droplets (organelles in fat cells) in obesity. I transitioned to a post doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School in the Laboratory for Molecular Medicine in April of 2016. This lab is a clinical genetics lab and I research gene-disease relationships in genetic hearing loss while training to be a molecular geneticist.

Any internships/pre-professional experiences at JHU? I did four years of work study in research laboratories at JHMI and in the Homewood Biology dept.

In what ways did your Hopkins education prepare you for your career? My research experience was critical for my admission into graduate school. In my postdoc, I am also still using what I learned in my human genetics class senior year at JHU.

Any classes, faculty members, or involvements at JHU that helped to shape your career interest? How did they do so? My research PI, the late Dr. Paula Pitha-Rowe, was a wonderful mentor and friend. She pushed me to apply to UMass Med because she had a collaborator at the institution and had wonderful experiences there. I would not be where I am today without her. Until her death a few years ago, she would make me breakfast every time I came back to Baltimore to visit.

Favorite Hopkins memory: Listening to a lecture from Nobel Laureate and discoverer of Aquaporins, Peter Agre. It was my first interaction with a Nobel Laureate and he was funny and well-spoken and inspiring because he told us about how he failed most of his high school science courses!

What about being a Hopkins student do you miss the most? I miss the easy camaraderie of having many people the same age with similar interests in one location. It is decidedly more effort to get together with friends the further you go from college 🙂

How did going to school in Baltimore affect your college experience and opportunities for pre-professional experiences? The Homewood campus was one of the things that attracted me to Hopkins (I applied ED). I wouldn’t say that Baltimore affected my pre-professional experiences because they were largely limited to the Hopkins system. It was nice that the music and medical schools were just a bus ride away.

Knowing what you know now, what would you want to tell your pre-college self? Stress a little less. You are on the right track! When one door shuts, sometimes a better one opens. Wake up earlier and enjoy the Waverly farmer’s market more.