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Student Profile: Adrienne Elbert – The best is yet to come

Adrienne Elbert, MD/PhD Candidate, is a 2012 Vanier Scholar, but she’s still looking forward to achieving bigger and better things.

“There’s a lot to do to live up to with this award’s reputation,” she said.” “And I feel as though my greatest achievement is yet to come.”

A multi-award winner, including several research travel awards, Elbert is well on her way to realizing this impressive aspiration.

Her research focuses on the role of epigenetic proteins in embryonic brain development. She is specifically interested in how perturbations to epigenetic pathways can result in intellectual disability.

The collaborative research environment throughout the School has helped expand her work. By using facilities at Robarts Research Institute, Elbert has been able to move her research forward from examining brain structure and molecular changes to animal learning and behavior.

“My environment at the School pushes me to learn and to use new technologies,” she explained. “I think this is possible because of great mentorship by senior students and supervisors, and the value placed on innovative approaches.”

She is also in good company with her fellow classmates. “I really love the supportive atmosphere among the MD/PhD students,” Elbert said.

Elbert hopes to continue her dual medicine and research focus through a professional career. “My future plans are to train as a child psychiatrist and continue as a neuro-developmental researcher,” she explained.

For now her sights are set on winning a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) research elective in San Francisco, allowing her the opportunity to work with a team doing a specific type of testing, known as utero electroporation.

Elbert says the School is a huge asset in obtaining these key research opportunities.

“As a student training at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, I’m not just trying to answer scientific questions, I’m inspired to innovate and creatively take science to the next level.”