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Drug Discovery and Development Meet Student Tyler Bernadyn

Tyler Bernadyn, Drexel Drug Discovery and Development Program Student


Hometown: Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate: Albright College, BS in Biochemistry
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Drug Discovery and Development


Can you tell me a little about yourself before you came to Drexel?

I went to Albright College, which is a small liberal arts school near Reading, Pennsylvania. I went there originally wanting to go to medical school, but I wasn't competitive enough, so I went the research route and became a biochemistry major. I got really into research, but about two weeks before I was going to graduate, I realized that I wanted to go to medical school again. Most of my friends were going to medical school and were in early acceptance programs. I deviated from the normal track, so I had to figure out what to do. I attended an alumni dinner, and Dr. Mathiasen, the co-director of the Drug Discovery and Development program, was there. She told me about the program and I decided to apply.

What has your experience in the program been like so far?

It's exceeded my expectations. I knew that the program was small and it was newer. I knew I was going to take courses, and I didn't think it was going to be as research heavy. I think it's great that you can construct the program to fit what you want it to be. With my goal being going to medical school, I needed the courses to boost my GPA. I checked that off, but I also wanted to do the research-heavy aspect too because I knew it would benefit me in medical school.

What has your relationship with the faculty been like?

It's been really good. Dr. McGonigle and Dr. Mathiasen, the two co-directors, are like a mother and a father. They take care of you any way possible. You could walk up to Dr. Mathiasen with even the dumbest of questions, and she's more than glad to help. She's always like, “Oh, I know this person from this institute. I know this person from this job. Do you need a connection?” It's phenomenal. The two of them together are just amazing. Even outside of the two co-directors, I have a very good relationship with my principle investigator (PI) now, Patrick Osei-Owusu. He's very demanding but it's all out of good nature. He wants to see us all do the best that we possibly could. All of the professors that you meet along the way are right around the corner from you, so you run into them regularly. I think all of the relationships are very good.

What is your relationship with your classmates like?

It's a small program, so you get to know everyone well. We also take a lot of classes with the pharmacology and physiology students, so it's not just the Drug Discovery and Development students who you get to know. You get to make a lot of friends through the journey.

How do you like living in Philly?

When I first got here, I experienced culture shock, because I am from a mountain town, which is a mile long with a population of about 3,000 max. I went from there to Reading, and I thought Reading was a city. I was like, “Wow, Reading is huge. This is so cool, and I'm part of the city life.” Then, I came to Drexel. I was like, “I am not ready for this.” So I experienced culture shock, but you begin to realize that nobody really cares what you do because they all have their own incentives and their own tasks that they have too. You just go about your routine, and it's kind of cool.

Do you feel like the Drug Discovery and Development program helped you adjust to Philly?

Absolutely. I remembered during our orientation days that one of the big questions was about transportation. It's very complex for a person not used to the city. Luckily, I live right next to the Queen Lane campus, so I just take the Drexel shuttle. I don't have to worry about SEPTA and stuff like that. Dr. Mathiasen rides SEPTA in and out and knows the whole railway line like the back of her hand, so she's very good to ask about that.

Can you tell me about the research that you are doing?

The lab looks at these receptors called G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) and their relevance within the cardiovascular system. More specifically, I'm looking at unravelling the novel mechanisms whereby regulation and dysregulation of G-protein signaling by regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins are involved in normal functions and diseases of the cardiovascular systems. We use various methods, such as electrical pacing and pharmacological stimulation of heart muscle cells to do such.

What are your plans after you complete the program?

My dream is to work in military medicine. The Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, is my dream school. It's the military medical school and is specifically catered to military medicine. Both of my grandfathers were in the military. One was in the Marines, and the other was in the Army. I've seen what the military did for them, and it gave them the foundation of their character and who they are as men. I want that for myself, but I also find am interested in science and medicine. I figured if I can combine the two of them, why not? That's my goal.

What advice would you give to current and future Drug Discovery and Development students?

I recently had a conversation with a student who was just accepted here. My advice to him was to, one, maintain a balance. No matter the workload you're given and as stressful as it may seem, remember to relax. Go have fun with friends. When I first came here, I was very work, work, work, work, and I could see myself getting stressed out and high strung. The moment I realized it, I took a step back. On weekends, I'd be like, “Oh, it's Saturday. I should type a paper,” but I should probably go hang out with my buddies. The second thing I told him is to make sure you know your goal and how you could use this program to reach it.