Author: David Melton | Category: Final Words... | Biology of Aging | Biology of Aging | June 03, 2015
Congratulations David Melton, an M.D./Ph.D. student in the Biology of Aging track for successfully defending your dissertation on "MiRNA
Regulation of Macrophage Polarization."
Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick
UT Health Science Center, and your program.
I am a non-traditional student in that I served in the U.S. Navy as
a nuclear engineering laboratory technician aboard fast-attack submarines after
I attended college at 25
years old at University of North Texas where I received a B.S. in Chemistry and
B.S. Biochemistry in 2008.
I chose UT Health Science Center at San Antonio because of the great faculty in the
medical school and the well-known research programs (Biology of Aging) that
were within my interests.
Please provide a few sentences summarizing your dissertation.
What was the experience like for you?
My dissertation explored the temporal expression patterns of
macrophage polarization-specific miRNAs. The goal was to discover miRNAs that
regulated macrophage polarization and could provide therapeutic targets for the
manipulation of inflammation in vivo.
This experience revealed to me the need for careful
step-by-step evaluation of experimental failures. That experiment failures are just as valuable
as when experiments work as anticipated.
Why are you passionate about your research
topic? How did you first become interested in it?
I never thought that innate immunology (specifically
macrophage biology) would be so fascinating before I came to UTHSCSA. I knew
that I wanted to study tissue repair/regeneration.
However, the importance of
the macrophage in this process greatly intrigued me. Additionally, the complex questions that seek
to define the still vaguely characterized process known as aging also peaked my
interest while at UTHSCSA.
between chronic, systemic inflammation and aging have only recently been
identified and are hot topics in the literature that unite my primary
What was your best memory during graduate school
or what did you learn?
I really enjoyed presenting my research at our Biology of
Aging Student Symposium last year. The students
and faculty in this track are always excited to support and engage in
thought-provoking research questions.
I must return to medical school for the 3rd and 4th clinical years. The next question in my
career regards the choice of clinical specialty. Currently, pathology or internal medicine are
high on my list of possible clinical careers.
Any advice for your fellow graduate students?
Failure is an important teacher in research. Embrace failure as a component of any
research pathway. The most challenging
aspect to graduate school is coping with the overwhelming frustration that pervades
Make time to get
away from the bench and further develop your non-science interests and
You will find that a short
respite can greatly diminish the frustration and allow you to return back to
the bench with fresh determination.
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