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Medical Science Meet Student Marissa Matto

Drexel Medical Science Student Marissa Matto


Hometown: Oxford, CT
Undergraduate: University of Connecticut, BS in Molecular and Cell Biology
Graduate: Drexel University College of Medicine, MS in Medical Science
Accepted Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine, Class of 2022


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

Before coming to Drexel, I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and attended UConn, where I studied molecular and cell biology. Before and during college, I was employed in the customer service industry as an employee in a clothing store and as a waitress. I was heavily involved in a competitive cheerleading program, and I also was an assistant coach for a high school cheerleading team that was nearby. One of my goals was to experience life and culture in a city and that was one of the many reasons I ultimately came to Drexel.

Why did you choose the Master's in Medical Science program?

I chose the Medical Science program because I recognized that my medical school application was not the best it could be. I was seeking a program where I could prove my capabilities academically while having a meaningful research experience, and this program afforded me both of those opportunities.

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

My experience in the program has been superb. The mentors and advisors in this program were consistently encouraging and realistic with me about my medical school application. They were vital in my quest for medical school because they helped me to become the best candidate I could be.

The first year curriculum, though difficult, was transformative for me. After successfully completing it, I felt I had proven to myself that I was capable of achievement in the rigorous medical school curriculum. The many hours I spent studying were well worth it. Additionally, having classmates going through the same trials; there was a sense of camaraderie, and I believe I made friends here that will last a lifetime.

Can you tell me about your research project?

My research focuses on metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer and the tumor microenvironment that facilitates its growth. We are interested in the molecular changes that occur with the prostate cancer cells that makes them resistant to androgen deprivation therapy, which is the current standard of treatment for metastatic prostate cancer. We are focused on the cytokine IL-1B and how it is involved with the cancer cells' interaction with the bone stroma, which is the most common site of metastasis.

How did you come to research this?

I've always held great interest in cancer and oncology as a specialty. I felt that I would be the most excited to research something related to that, and I came across the lab in my search through the Drexel website.

What do you find exciting about this research?

Prostate cancer is a highly common cancer, affecting 1 in 6 men. While many of them will be cancer free following the current standard of treatment, some of them will unfortunately succumb to the disease due to metastasis.

What are your plans after you complete the MS program?

I have been accepted to Drexel University College of Medicine for the class beginning in 2018. I am excited to begin my journey to becoming a physician this fall.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering Drexel's Medical Science program?

If your medical school application needs to be better in terms of both academics and experiences, this program is perfect. I really needed research opportunities so that requirement was critical to why I came here. The first year is heavily focused on academics, so be ready and willing to spend a lot of time studying. For the second year, which is entirely research, my advice is to take the time to find opportunities that will be the most interesting to you. You will be more willing to put in the time and effort to the research if it excites you.

Drexel University College of Medicine Medical Science program graduate students participating in a group discussion.