A Day in the Life: Kelly Borges

Kelly Borges Headshot

A Day in the Life

Kelly Borges

D.O./Ph.D. (3rd Year)

My name is Kelly Borges and I’m in my third year of NYITCOM’s DO/PhD program. I was raised in Manchester, NH, and went to college at UConn in Storrs, CT. With no specific post-grad plans, I moved to Philadelphia with my best friend, worked in clinical research (among other odd jobs) and earned a masters degree at UPenn before returning to CT to continue working in research at Yale. My primary care doctor, an osteopathic physician herself, influenced my decision to apply to NYITCOM.

This past Fall semester was my first block of “graduate school” courses and thesis work (after passing Level/Step 1 board exams in the summer after second year, we complete our final lab rotation and then start thesis research). Given our mutual interests and her high tolerance of my premature enthusiasm, Dr. Olga Savinova fortunately agreed to be my PhD advisor. Under her mentorship, I developed a neurovascular research group within her lab, offering research opportunities to undergrads and preclinical med students interested in the intersection of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. For my disseration work, I’m studying the role of vascular calcification in atherosclerosis and dementia.

6:00 am: Drag myself out of bed and outside to go running before my brain wakes up and convinces me not to.

9:00 am:We have classes on three mornings/week. This semester our classes are Research Methods (led by Drs. Liang & Beatty, we learn about various lab techniques ranging from CRISPR-Cas gene editing to quadruped locomotion analysis), Form & Function (led by Dr. Granatosky, we learn anatomy and physiology across various extant and extinct animal models), and Research Ethics (led by Drs. Hadjiargyrou & Ojamaa); after class I like to get food/catch up with my DO/PhD classmates Ashwin and Navjot before we return to our labs. On mornings I’m not in class, I’m usually planning experiments, reading/writing papers, and working on my literature review. My favorite journals at the moment are Nature Aging and Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. I’m continuously impressed and inspired by the work being done in this field.

12:00 pm: Most afternoons are spent doing laboratory work including dissecting and prepping cadaveric tissue, collecting and analyzing histologic/microCT imaging data, conducting cardiac physiology studies on mice, etc.

4:00 pm: To combat the urge to sleep as soon as it gets dark out, I’ll go lift with Navjot at the campus gym or go to a hot yoga class at lifetime.

7:00 pm: On evenings and weekends, I put in a few hours of data entry work for the endovascular neurosurgery clinical trials I help coordinate at Yale Center for Clinical Investigation. These studies have influenced my own research pursuits and I feel fortunate to have had this exposure. When I’m not working or studying, I’m usually travelling – to SC to see my parents, RI to see the rest of my family, and all around the country to see friends. Next month we’re going skiing in Big Sky, MT!

Similar to OMS I-II preclinical years, these 3 years of PhD research are largely self-paced. Although we don’t have monthly exams, we do have to balance our coursework alongside our scheduled experiments and overall research timeline. Further, in our first two years of medical school, there is a well established curriculum and pre-defined breadth of content we know we need to learn. It is an undeniably long list, but nonetheless it is “listed out” for us. In our research years, beyond the initial few courses, we essentially define our curricula ourselves. Guided by our mentors, we determine what needs to be learned in order to answer our research questions, and we design our experiments accordingly.

Given my long-term goal of designing and leading clinical trials, I applied directly to NYITCOM’s DO/PhD program when initially applying to medical school. NYITCOM is one of seven medical schools that offer a dual degree DO/PhD program, and from my first visit to campus, I could see myself fitting in well on this campus. Beyond the PhD program, NYITCOM’s wellness initiatives (e.g. Fit Physician, Rock Steady Boxing, Center for Behavior Health, pick-up sports, etc.) distinguished the campus among others I considered applying to at the time. Our campus’s inclusive fitness community offers healthy outlets for coping with the stress of studying and fosters friendships among students in various stages of training. I’m proud to be part of this community and am happy to hear from aspiring physician-scientists considering coming to NYITCOM. I don’t have any social media accounts but I can be reached on LinkedIn or by email .

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