Students Welcome

Jonathan Tucci

Jonathan Tucci
Fourth Year Medical Student

Jonathan Tucci, Fourth Year Medical Student

Being in my final year of medical school and applying for residency, I have had the opportunity to reflect on my time in the USC-Caltech MD-PhD Program. When choosing where to attend, I specifically remember the USC-Caltech program standing out for the breadth of educational experiences it offered. Over the past eight years, I have seen first-hand that to be true. Despite having the option to conduct translational research at a premier institution like USC or basic science research under Nobel laureates at Caltech, I chose to research the association between childhood obesity and pediatric leukemia at the prestigious Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. During this time, I had the opportunity to become co-investigator on a clinical trial testing the efficacy of a diet and exercise intervention in pediatric leukemia patients to abate chemotherapy-associated increases in body fat. My opportunities for learning did not stop there. Returning to medical school for my clinical years, I have had the pleasure to learn from patients all across Los Angeles. From LAC+USC to a private practice in Burbank to a psychiatric ward in Compton, I have witnessed medicine and disease in all its forms. While this road has been long, in being at USC, I know it has been the right one. And yet, I have never been alone in this journey. The faculty, residents, students and support staff have been just as amazing as the education. Altogether, the USC-Caltech MD-PhD Program has prepared me better than I could have imagined for my career as a physician-scientist. 

Dissertation Title: The Role of Adipocyte-Derived Free-Fatty Acids in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

  • Sheng X, Parmentier JH, Tucci J, Pei H, Cortez-Toledo O, Dieli-Conwright CM, Oberley MJ, Neely M, Orgel E, Louie SG, Mittelman SD. Adipocytes Sequester and Metabolize the Chemotherapeutic Daunorubicin. Mol Cancer Res. 2017 Dec;15(12):1704-1713.
  • Sheng X, Tucci J, Parmentier JH, Ji L, Behan JW, Heisterkamp N, Mittelman SD. Adipocytes cause leukemia cell resistance to daunorubicin via oxidative stress response. Oncotarget. 2016 Nov 8;7(45):73147-73159.
  • Tucci J and Mittelman SD. Mouse Models to Study Obesity Effects on Hematologic Malignancies, In: Murine Models, Energy Balance, and Cancer. Berger NA ed. Springer, 97-116, 2015
  • Alderete TL, Sattler FR, Richey JM, Allayee H, Mittelman SD, Sheng X, Tucci J, Gyllenhammer LE, Grant EG, Goran MI. Salsalate treatment improves glycemia without altering adipose tissue in nondiabetic obese hispanics. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Mar;23(3):543-51.
  • Alderete TL, Sattler FR, Sheng X, Tucci J, Mittelman SD, Grant EG, Goran MI. A novel biopsy method to increase yield of subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Jan;39(1):183-6.
  • Orgel E, Tucci J, Alhushki W, Malvar J, Sposto R, Fu C, Freyer D, Abdel-Azim H, Mittelman SD. Obesity is associated with persistence of residual leukemia following induction therapy in children newly-diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Blood. 2014 Dec 18;124(26):3932-8.
  • Sheng X, Tucci J, Malvar J, and Mittelman SD. Adipocyte differentiation is affected by media height above the cell layer. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Feb;38(2):315-20.
Stephanie Navarro

Stephanie Navarro
Second Year Medical Student

Stephanie Navarro, Second Year Medical Student

Welcome! My name is Stephanie and I am starting my MD2 year in the Keck-Caltech MD-PhD program.  Although I am relatively new, my time at Keck has already far exceeded any hopes that I had as an incoming MD-PhD program student.  The support that I have received from professors, clinical mentors, research mentors, administrators, and staff has consistently provided me with strong foundations to excel as a student, explore future career paths, and prepare for a successful trajectory throughout my combined degree studies.  Along the way, facets of the MD-PhD program, including journal clubs, mentorship from older students, and attentive support from our program leadership have been key in helping to grow my understanding of what it means to be a physician-scientist and how this training can be best leveraged to achieve my goals.  My experience at Keck so far would not be complete if not for the caring, community-minded, and patient-centered ethos of our school.  I feel both extremely fortunate and humbled to participate in research seeking to support the needs of those most vulnerable in our community and to learn medicine in clinical settings which serve this same population and have the common goal of supporting and empowering those most disempowered in our society.  This program has been the perfect fit for me, and I encourage anyone looking for a school and program which take pride in a culture of scientific and clinical excellence founded upon caring for each other, for patients, and for society at large to consider Keck-Caltech.