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Rhabdomyosarcoma

Kelly Lawson, M.D.

Distinction in Research

Kelly Lawson, M.D.

I am a recent graduate of UT Southwestern and completed a Distinction in Research. My participation in research here at UTSW was a very important part of my medical school career. I had done research in my undergraduate education and knew I wanted to continue that in medical school. I met with Dr. Galindo to help me find a research mentor and I told him I was interested in pediatrics and cancer biology – since Dr. Galindo’s lab is focused on rhabdomyosarcoma, a pediatric cancer, that was the end of my search for a mentor.

I started in Dr. Galindo’s lab after my first year of medical school and spent almost seven months dedicated to working in the lab. This included the Medical Student Summer Research Program as well as my scholarly activity. I worked with him and the amazing members of his lab on myogenesis and rhabdomyosarcoma. I was able to think critically and creatively and make progress in elucidating the mechanisms of a terrible disease to give us information that will eventually lead to new treatments. I am passionate about research and discovery and totally loved being in the lab.

Thinking creatively, criticially

In Dr. Galindo’s lab, I learned an unbelievable amount. I learned how to think both critically and creatively. I learned how to set, run, and analyze a scientific study. I learned how to write an abstract and a research paper. I learned how to present to crowds of esteemed physicians and scientists. I learned how to mentor younger students. I learned how to teach what I know. And I learned how to want to learn and always ask “why.” I completed a research poster, presented a poster at a forum, wrote multiple abstracts, prepared a thesis, defended my thesis, and earned an M.D. with a Distinction in Research.

More than just fulfilling my intellectual passions, this program has helped me in so many other ways. My father was diagnosed with cancer during medical school. He went through chemo and after relapses and resistance to chemo, he ended up going to a clinical trial. This made research all that much more personal for me. My dad is here today because groundbreaking research was being done. This makes it that much more of an honor for me to be involved in research here.

More than that, the time when my dad was sick was the hardest time in my life. Having a mentor was invaluable for me. Dr. Galindo and the people in his lab were there for me emotionally, academically, really in any way that they could be. Dr. Galindo offered me guidance and support through this difficult time.

Continued mentoring

As things improved with my dad, and my worries switched back to normal medical school things, Dr. Galindo continued to mentor me through those. He spent evenings on the phone with me helping me think through decisions about what specialty to apply to, how to write a personal statement, and all the other stressors of medical school.

During interviews for residency, I was asked countless times about my research, and it was always so much fun to talk about. My interviewers could tell how excited I was and how much the experience impacted me. I am extremely grateful for the research program and would recommend it to future medical students.

– Kelly Lawson, M.D., Distinction in Research