MS Bio Sciences

After gaining extensive hands-on experiences in Dominican’s MS in Biological Sciences program and publishing alongside faculty mentors in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, international graduate students Maryam Fallatah MS ’16 and Hongye Zou MS ’16 are furthering their studies as PhD students at UC Irvine and UC Davis respectively.

Maryam, who is from Medina, Saudi Arabia, is in the graduate program in the Department of Biological Chemistry in the School of Medicine at UC Irvine for the purpose of study leading to a doctorate in Biomedical Sciences. Her focus is cancer and cell biology.

Hongye, a native of China, is a student in the UC Davis pharmacology and toxicology program at the UC Davis Medical Center.

Their Dominican experiences in the School of Health and Natural Sciences prepared Maryam and Hongye well for their doctoral work.

Dominican’s MS students benefit from rigorous research, conducted in laboratory facilities at either Dominican, the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, or BioMarin. Students begin their lab placements during the first semester, making the Dominican program one of the most innovative and hands-on graduate science programs in the country.
Both Hongye and Maryam worked in the Dominican labs in collaboration with faculty mentors Dr. Maggie Louie, professor of biochemistry, and Dr. Mary Sevigny, assistant professor of biology.

Hongye is first author of a paper appearing in the February 2019 issue of Cancer Letters. The manuscript examines the effect of a new flexible heteroaratinoid (a synthetic compound) in terms of inhibiting HER2-positive breast cancer cell growth.

Maryam was first author and Hongye was co-author of an earlier manuscript examining inhibition of ER-positive breast cancer cell growth, by Novel flexible heteroarotinoid, SL-1-18, also published by Cancer Letters.

Hongye was completing his undergraduate work at Xi’an Jiaotong University when he heard about the breast cancer research underway at Dominican. Once at Dominican he quickly immersed himself in the lab with Dr. Louie and Dr. Sevigny.

“My life at Dominican was wonderful,” Hongye says. “The research at Dominican prepared me really well for future research, especially with the critical thinking skills. I also published my first peer-reviewed papers at Dominican.”

At UC, Davis Hongye is focusing on cancer pharmacology. He is interested in devoting his work to cancer related drug development and finding a job in a pharmaceutical company.

Dominican’s research-based curriculum enabled Maryam to learn lab techniques starting from “the zero to the advanced level.” Currently, she is conducting research involving reactivation of mutant p53, tumor suppressor, in ovarian cancer cell lines by small molecules. Maryam’s goal is to pursue a career as a cancer research scientist.

“My Dominican experience was amazing,” says Maryam, who earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from King Abdul-Aziz University. “I was both happy and sad when I graduated. I was happy that I earned a new degree, but was sad because I was leaving the lab at Dominican. The lab was part of my life for three years and it provided me a place and the resources to conduct research. I considered it a second home. It was one of my happiest experiences.”

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