Reggie Jacob is on the fast track to solving society’s major health problems | UTSA today | UTSA
“I love the ability to apply what I learn in the classroom to problems I face in the lab,” Jacob said. “My program focused on the laboratory techniques that I used extensively in my internships.”
Students in the graduate-level biotechnology program can apply up to nine credit hours from an internship at a biotechnology company toward their 36-hour program. Jacob first heard about the internship opportunity with bioAffinity Technologies from Valerie Sponselgraduate counselor and professor in the college’s department of integrative biology.
San Antonio-based BioAffinity Technologies is a private company with a research lab located on the west side of UTSA’s main campus. The company strives to meet the need for non-invasive diagnosis and treatment of cancer at an early stage.
During his first semester with bioAffinity, Jacob cultivated different cancer cell lines for various projects and gained in-depth knowledge of the biotechnology industry. He continued his internship with bioAffinity for a second semester and contributed to the work of discovering new cancer treatments. Jacob’s internship with bioAffinity Technologies has proven to be an effective way to explore his field of study, network with experts in his field, and save valuable class time.
“I was involved in both basic research and product development at the company, which gave me valuable insight into how a biotech organization works,” he said.
Jacob is extremely grateful for the opportunity to conduct research under the direction of bioAffinity’s Vice President David Elsi, whom he calls a valuable mentor. Elzi’s lessons about examining and appreciating the scientific process in a way that could help solve societal challenges resonated personally with Jacob.
“Being mentored by Dr. Elzi was a wonderfully rewarding experience,” recalls Jacob. “My contribution was always appreciated and encouraged, and my mistakes were reframed as learning experiences that helped me grow as a researcher.”
Prior to earning his master’s degree in biotechnology, Jacob gained research experience at UT Health San Antonio where he worked on a protein channel called the mitochondrial calcium uniporter (MCU), which has potential applications in injury prevention. heart during heart attacks. The MCU also has possible links to the prevention of chronic kidney disease. The experience helped Jacob develop the skills required in a lab environment. It was also acknowledged in an article published by the National Institutes of Health.
“I was a bit unsure of what to do after undergrad, so when I was offered this chance to stay at UTSA with the VIP program, I was very excited to take it,” said declared Jacob. “The master’s program opened doors to courses and opportunities like my internship at bioAffinity Technologies that shaped my interest in science.”