Brandy Garzel is a current student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) PhD Program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
Brandy received her Bachelor of Arts in biology in 2011 from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland (now Notre Dame of Maryland University). As an undergraduate student, she was introduced to the field of pharmacogenetics during an internship at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Brandy currently works as a graduate research assistant in the laboratory of her advisor, Hongbing Wang, PhD, professor in PSC, studying drug transporters and how drugs affect the expression of proteins.
What are your personal research interests?
During my time at the School of Pharmacy, I have been exposed to a number of different research areas. My current research primarily focuses on drug transporters. I look at the regulation of different transporters and how drugs affect the expression of these proteins, giving us a better understanding of how drugs affect transport and cause toxicity to the body.
What interested you most about the Pharmaceutical Sciences PhD Program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy?
A former faculty member from the School of Pharmacy began working at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland while I was an undergraduate, and I met with him to discuss potential research opportunities. He convinced me to pursue a PhD. I also completed an internship at the School of Pharmacy, which helped me gain experience with the professors. I was very impressed with the collaborative environment that surrounded the program. I felt very comfortable with the faculty and students. Because I lived in Baltimore, I asked if I could join the program during the summer after I was admitted so that I could get to work immediately.
How would you describe your experience since being admitted to the program?
It has been an amazing experience. Faculty members truly want students to be able to apply what they learn in the classroom to the lab environment. They want us to understand how to take the different methods that we are taught and design an experiment. Although I primarily work with Dr. Hongbing Wang, I have also had opportunities to learn different techniques from the labs of other faculty members, including Drs. Polli and Swaan (both professors in PSC). Faculty and other students look at each other as equals, so I know that I can always ask anyone in the program for advice.
Are there any unique experiences in which you have been able to participate as a result of coming to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy?
Because the School of Pharmacy is located very close to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the FDA, I have been able to take advantage of a number of unique programs and services that have assisted me with my projects. For instance, one project on which I am currently working with Dr. Wang was initially funded by the FDA through the University of Maryland’s Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI), which was established by Dr. Polli, and is now supported by an F31 National Research Service Award for predoctoral fellows from the NIH.
What is your advice to prospective students who might be considering whether or not to apply to this program?
Research programs with an open mind. You want to pick the program that’s going to best prepare you for your future. Asking students and faculty about the different opportunities available to you as a student will give you a better idea about the topics in which you might be interested. Faculty members do not expect incoming students to know exactly what type of projects they want to pursue as soon as they are admitted. However, having so many options at one institution, like the School of Pharmacy, and having faculty who excel in all of those fields gives you a wide range of possibilities to explore, which allows you to really find your research niche.