Jae Won Choi

How does your Mayo Graduate School education compare with previous education that you have received at other institutions?
Although it is difficult to directly compare the very different education systems of South Korea and America, I find that Mayo Clinic is a nice place to grow as a researcher. Mayo Graduate School's allure lies in its warm and supportive educational environment. Students have multiple channels to directly communicate with graduate school leadership. "Lunch With the Deans" is one example where students and faculty leadership have helpful discussions and share their visions for graduate education over lunch. This dialogue between students and faculty allows students to make tangible contributions to advancing education at Mayo and reflects the student-driven program here.

What opportunities have you been introduced to since being at Mayo Graduate School?
After three different rotations, I joined my thesis lab. With guidance of my thesis advisor, I am studying how brain cancer cells survive in the stressful tumor environment. We found a new molecular target protein that helps cancer cells overcome stress. Now we are developing a new small-molecule inhibitor targeting this protein. Working with my thesis advisor, I realized mentorship is really critical for the success of a young student. It is thrilling for a graduate student to experience and learn both elegant science and excellent mentoring.

Why did you choose Mayo Graduate School?
Mayo Clinic has a better research environment in immunology than other institutions for which I was granted admission. After spending four years at Mayo, I have come to know the good faculty and well-organized education system here and realized that I made the right choice.

How would you describe the atmosphere of Mayo Clinic?
It has a small but supportive organization of people who know each other and work well together. Collaboration at various levels is always encouraged. This collaborative research environment enforces my learning and research experience. Many faculty and students continuously give each other good feedback for better science and quality of life.

What are your plans for the future?
My graduate studies have inspired me to conduct more extensive research in the fields of cancer and metabolism as a postdoctoral research fellow. After obtaining more research experience, I would like to explore my own interests as an independent researcher. Above all, my final goal is to be a good mentor for young scientists.

If you could describe Mayo Clinic in one word, what would it be?
Excellence.

With what activities are you involved in Rochester?
I enjoy traveling and aspire to travel to visit more places in Rochester's vicinity before I leave.

How does Rochester differ from your hometown? College community?
Rochester is a completely different environment from my hometown, Seoul. Compared with Seoul, where 40 million people live, Rochester is very calm, comfortable and inviting. With each passing day, my admiration for this wonderful city has grown considerably. Rochester may soon be another one of my hometowns from which I will have fond memories and connections from the start of my scientific career.

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