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Meet Greg Poore

Describe your background: I grew up in South Florida and lived there for 18 years before going to Duke for undergrad to study biomedical engineering. I had an initial interest in prosthetic design, but that rapidly changed during my freshman year when I suddenly lost my grandmother to pancreatic cancer; she passed just 33 days after diagnosis. This pushed me towards medicine and cancer research as an impactful career path, which eventually led me to UC San Diego to do an MD/PhD.

Describe your area of research and what department/program you are in at UC San Diego: I initially completed two years of medical school and my first clinical licensing exam (2016-2018), and I am currently a second year PhD student in the Bioengineering department working under Dr. Rob Knight. My focus is to bring together oncology and microbiology, two fields that often don’t talk to each other. The main idea is that cancer is not a sterile entity, and if it is not, then all of that microbial information can be used to inform new cancer diagnostics, prognostics, and therapeutics for patients. I plan to graduate in 2024.

Describe your involvement in the UC San Diego community: I currently live in The Rita on campus (near the medical school campus), which is conveniently a 2-minute walk from the Knight lab (in BRFII), assuming non-pandemic conditions. Since arriving on campus, I have been a member of the UCSD Triathlon club team, and last November completed my first Ironman in Phoenix, AZ. Since Fall 2018, I have also taken successive rec classes to learn swing dancing and really enjoy it. Lastly, I’ve also been involved in Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) to grow spiritually on campus.

Why did you choose UC San Diego?: UC San Diego embodies an interesting cross-section of my past life experiences: For one, my mother attended La Jolla Country Day for high school, which is just across the street from UCSD’s La Jolla hospital; secondly, my first ever research experience (in high school) was at The Scripps Research Institute (their FL campus), which often collaborates with UCSD for research; thirdly, my PI (Rob Knight) offered to blend my undergrad research experiences in cancer genomics and infectious disease diagnostics by studying microbes in cancer and using their presence to create new cancer diagnostics. UC San Diego also offered a wonderful place that seemed to balance work and life well, which for the ~8 year MD/PhD track I highly valued.

Have you been awarded any graduate fellowships?: The MD/PhD program at UC San Diego is funded by the NIH and can be considered a fellowship, as it covers all of our medical school training (tuition, etc.). The NIH also has another MD/PhD-specific graduate fellowship for the PhD years called the F30, which I was thankful to be awarded in December 2019. Both of these applications were extremely thorough and challenging, and they both took more than a year from start to finish/receiving. I’m extremely grateful for all the people that invested in me along the way to make for strong applications, and having them has provided an invaluable training experience.

What has been your favorite part about your graduate student experience at UC San Diego?: I get terribly antsy if I stay indoors for too long, and it has been so wonderful to be able to get outside — running, biking, swimming, hiking — on a year-round basis in San Diego. Being able to exercise in such a beautiful place was very memorable during my Ironman training (up to ~20 hr/wk), and some of my favorite all-time memories include finishing several 100+ mile bike rides along the ocean at sunset.

Any final thoughts you'd like to share?: I am largely here, in this position, because many, many people invested in me, mentored me, and believed in me, even when I didn’t see what they saw. I have a lot of thanks to give for everyone who has done so — my family, close friends, research mentors (Glenn Micalizio, Christoph Rader, Steve Rozen, Patrick Tan, Geoff Ginsburg, Rob Knight, Austin Swafford), clinical mentors (Lori Brown, Rafael Bejar, Sandip Patel), entrepreneurial mentors (Sandrine Miller-Montgomery), life mentors (John Hamilton, Bill Tumulty, Hunt Willard), and many others — and I hope to be able to do the same for others as I grow and learn.