New College grad takes next step at Yale Medical School

By

Honor Soluri-Whelan

Chris Dussik, graduate of ASU’s West campus, was recently accepted into Yale Medical School. While attending ASU, Chris conducted lab research with Dr. Peter Jurutka, professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, and in collaboration on a project with Dean Todd Sandrin and the Mayo Clinic. Chris started classes at Yale in August, and hopes to share advice with other students hoping to follow the same path.

Question: What is it like going to Yale Medical School? What have you learned anything that you didn’t expect going in? 

Answer: Having the privilege of attending the Yale School of Medicine has meant unique experiences and opportunities for me. Students from universities all over the world are my classmates, making interpersonal encounters rich and exciting, both during classes and socially. Our academic program has a great deal of flexibility built into it, providing ample opportunity for exploring individual interests, including physician shadowing, attending classes in other Yale graduate schools, such as law and business, and extracurricular activities. Moreover, the Yale System has a laissez-faire take on grading that encourages a collaborative and stress-free learning environment. While I had read about Yale’s unique approach, I didn’t foresee the degree of freedom and comradery it inspires. The esprit de corps among medical students at Yale helps to create a fantastic learning environment that’s really one-of-a-kind! 

Question: What was the nature of the work you did with Dr. Sandrin and the Mayo Clinic? How did these experiences prepare you for attending Yale Medical School? 

Answer: I worked with Dr. Todd Sandrin and Dr. Peter Jurutka, as well as Dr. Amy Foxx-Orenstein of the Mayo Clinic, for about four years on a project aimed at discovering a novel diagnostic tool for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Currently, the diagnostic model for IBS involves a costly, time-intensive process wherein a multitude of tests are performed to systematically exclude other diseases with similar symptoms to IBS. By evaluating the gene expression patterns in IBS patients, we were able to develop a putative diagnostic assay that we are hoping to test through upcoming blind trials. 

Through my research experience at ASU, I had the opportunity to serve as an author of several published manuscripts and a textbook chapter. Moreover, I was given the opportunity to present my research at a number of conferences across the Southwest. Taken together, these experiences were invaluable in developing my scientific acumen, providing networking opportunities, and improving the competitiveness of my medical school application. 

Question: What are your plans for the future? What advice do you have for other students looking to pursue a future in the medical field? 

Answer: Currently, I’m really interested in surgery and have been exploring several different fields while looking into new research opportunities. Other than that, I just plan to study, study, and then study some more. 

As for tips, first and foremost, medical schools really emphasize having lots of research experience on your resume. So I would definitely recommend looking into getting involved whenever your schedule permits. There are lots of really fantastic professors on the West Campus and Tempe who are always looking for new students to help out! 

In addition, I’d recommend that you focus on nailing those core courses (BIO181, PHY111, CHM235, etc.) within the first few semesters of undergrad. Over the course of your undergrad career, studying for the MCAT, and then into medical school, you’ll end up seeing this material over and over again. By investing the time and effort to excel in these courses, you set yourself up for success in the future.