Childhood experiences stirred a desire to heal

Rudo Makonza Goto '13

Rudo Makonza Goto '13, Graduate Student

Major: Biochemistry

Internship: Dana Farber Cancer Center; Professor Darren Hamilton Organic Synthesis Lab

Advanced Degrees: MS University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (in progress)

I developed an interest in medicine while growing up in Zimbabwe. The early 90s was a difficult time for this country as it was facing one of the highest rates of new HIV/AIDS infections and deaths tolls in the world. When this disease affected my family, I recall a feeling of despair and helplessness because neither I or my relatives could do anything about it.

My childhood experiences stirred a desire to heal and a sense of scientific curiosity. I did not have a hard time declaring a major in Biochemistry as it aligned well with my educational and career goals. The concepts I learned about DNA and cellular processes directly explained the etiology of many diseases. The more I understood cellular processes, the more I cultivated my interest in medicine.

In addition, I engaged in organic chemistry research with Professor Darren Hamilton, and through this, I learned the structure of and thought process involved in scientific research. Upon graduating, I worked in the Early Drug Development Center at Dana Farber Cancer Center. I was able to apply my research skills in a clinical setting and witness how translational medicine utilizes bench research to create therapeutic solutions for patients.

Now as a first-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh, I have had to revisit the fundamentals of science and make direct clinical correlations.

I feel that the interdisciplinary nature of Biochemistry enhanced my critical thinking and problem-solving capacity; I think of how things are connected and utilize these relationships in formulating a solution. I look forward to clinical rotations and kicking off a career in medicine soon!