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A Conversation with Dr. David Fooksman: Celebrating 20 Years of Beckman Scholars

A Conversation with Dr. David Fooksman: Celebrating 20 Years of Beckman Scholars

  • Friday, December 15, 2017
Then: 1998 Beckman Scholars Program Award Recipient, Carnegie Mellon University
Now: Assistant Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine 

AMBF: Prior to college, were you curious about a career in science?

DF: No.

AMBF: What exposure did you have to knowing what research in a laboratory would be like?

DF: I worked in research labs starting in the fall of my freshman year in undergraduate.

AMBF: When you heard about the Beckman Scholar opportunity, what inspired you to apply?

DF: It was a great opportunity to fund my research over the summers and also help pay my tuition.

AMBF: What was your research focused on? What were the results?

DF: I was working on alternative splicing of a major transcription factor, Ultrabithorax, in Drosophila.  Ultrabithorax helps pattern the embryo and our lab had identified several different splice isoforms that were tissue restricted, suggesting they may have different functions.  I conducted a yeast three-hybrid screen to identify new factors that might regulate which splicing isoforms are expressed.

AMBF: What was the most memorable part about working with your mentor or working in the laboratory?

DF: Hard to say.

AMBF: How did the experience change your thinking about science and conducting research?

DF: By conducting research all through my undergraduate studies, I became convinced it was going to be my life’s purpose.

AMBF: Where did you go after graduation and where are you now? 

DF: I entered a PhD program at Johns Hopkins, then a postdoctoral fellowship at NYU School of Medicine.  Currently, I am an Assistant Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx.

AMBF: Did you continue doing scientific research?

DF: Yes.

AMBF: What effect did the Beckman Scholar experience have on your career?

DF: By conducting research all through my undergraduate studies, I became convinced it was going to be my life’s purpose.

AMBF: Do you have any advice for undergraduates considering a research career?

DF: Follow your passion.  Persistence is the most important characteristic to being successful. 

AMBF: Did you meet Dr. Beckman in person, and if so, what was most memorable about meeting him?

DF: Yes. I was impressed with his lifelong pursuits and successes.

AMBF: Any final thoughts?

DF: Thank you to Beckman Foundation.  I can say it succeeded in its goal by propelling my career in research.

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