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MEMP Alum Profile: A Checklist for Success

Thursday, October 6, 2016


Nina Menezes, MEMP PhD, ‘02, Associate Director, Healthcare Strategy, Becton Dickinson (BD)

Many students enter HST’s MEMP PhD program with an eye to continuing academic research or working directly in the biomedical industry. However, that’s not always the case. Numerous alumni find themselves pivoting to other successful careers, utilizing the skills and experience that they gain in the MEMP program.

Meet Nina Menezes. Currently the Associate Director of Healthcare Strategy at Becton Dickinson (BD)—a global medical technology company that seeks to advance healthcare by improving medical discovery, diagnostics, and delivery of care—she admits that pursuing a medical career was never her dream. But with strong influences in her family and her own thoughtful consideration of the viability of such a career, she entered university intending to study medicine.

When she began as a freshman at Cornell, however, she decided to study physics. Nina was fascinated by physics; she enjoyed problem-solving, tackling tough questions with the knowledge she could bring to the table. She found it satisfying to discover elegant solutions to compelling problems. Upon graduation, she wanted to pursue her growing interest in medicine, so she began searching for graduate programs that would combine her physics skills and knowledge with the medical field.

“When I found the HST program, I felt really drawn to it because it was the perfect blend of the two interests. So I felt like I could do something that made all of these things that felt different and disparate and I could make them whole. There was a reason why I was interested in both, and I could end the story in a way that seemed coherent.”

Nina found this cohesion present in how the MEMP program was organized—she took the same medical courses as students in the HST MD program and the same physics courses as students enrolled in the MIT Physics department, known as one of the best in the world. “It was built on really solid pieces.”

She tried out a few research areas before settling on MRI. Nina wanted to pursue something that would tangibly benefit from her physics background, and MRI was just the arena for that. She studied under Professors Deborah Burnstein (MEMP ’86) and Martha Gray (MEMP ’86), focusing on using MRI to detect early signs of osteoarthritis in cartilage.

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