CBR Graduate Profile: Melina Messing

Degree: PhD, Experimental Medicine
Supervisor: Kelly McNagny
Program start date: September 2017
Program end date: September 2022 (Graduation ceremony: November 2022)

Melina MessingWhich lab and what degree you were pursuing at UBC and the CBR?

As a member of the McNagny lab, I pursued a PhD in Experimental Medicine with a focus on Immunology.

What was your research about?

My focus was the study of immune responses in various conditions including muscular dystrophy, allergic disease and COVID-19.

The latter was an impromptu project in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and led me to discover human immune biomarkers that are predictive of COVID-19 clinical outcomes.

What inspired you to pursue your program?

As part of my Masters degree, I conducted a one year project at the Biomedical Research Center, UBC. Due to the exciting research and welcoming atmosphere, I decided to stay on for a PhD.

I actually had never taken a single course in Immunology but was immediately drawn to this field when I got the opportunity to shadow other students and learn about the field through hands on research.

What is one piece of advice you would give a new grad student?

Starting a PhD can feel overwhelming at first but you are not alone. Ask questions and learn skills from your fellow lab members. They are your support system and will help you when you feel stuck.

Most memorable part of your graduate student experience?

The McNagny lab is very supportive of traveling to conferences and present research. I got the opportunity to travel all over Canada as well as some places in the United States to share my research and connect with the leading scientists in my field.

What is your favourite non-academic activity?

Outside the lab, I play the cello in local orchestras where we play classical music and perform concerts a few times a year. Music is a great way to relax and stimulate the creative parts of the brain!