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Koret Fellowship Program

Marlene Cerritos-Rivas

Biology major, Class of 2018

I have always wanted to become a doctor, but my desire to work with cancer patients one-on-one was influenced by a personal loss. I lost my grandmother to cancer, due to the lack of resources in El Salvador such as the shortage of oncologists in El Salvador. From that day on, I made a promise myself to become the professional my family and I need during our hardest times. This ignited my dream of helping others through medicine. However, after taking my molecular class, I became interested in working in a lab and researching solutions for diseases. Therefore, after college, I will take a year off and do research in order to further my understanding of research and strengthen my laboratory skills. I plan to do a PhD/MD program that will allow me to explore all my interests and further work to help others. In the future, I would like to work in a research lab where I can research cures for cancers. I also wish to work in clinics that serve low-income communities where I can give back to my community by treating those that need it the most and do not have access to healthcare.

This summer I will be optimizing the purification process of two proteins that make up an important enzyme in how Human Immunodeficiency Virus infects humans. Once I figured out the best way to optimize the individual proteins, p51 and p66. The process can be applied to the purification of both proteins together. I hope to the process I will be working in during the summer helps me next year when I am trying to purify both proteins at the same time.