Fellowship Interview Series: Meet Baylor Genetics 2021 Fellows

A fellowship is critical for individuals to continue growing in their field while working and conducting research. At Baylor Genetics, continuing education is extremely important. This is one of the reasons we are excited to introduce our group of Clinical Biochemical, Laboratory Genetics & Genomics fellows. 

The BG fellowship offers participants practical experience and leadership development through direct exposure and active participation in projects and research throughout the organization. In this interview, you will get to know who the fellows are, their future plans, and what they’re hoping to gain from the program to grow as healthcare professionals. We hope this interview encourages aspiring scientists and medical students to continue to pursue their dreams and achieve their career goals.

Meet Our Fellows

Jing Xiao, PhD

The first fellow you will meet is Jing Xiao, PhD. Xiao is originally from China and has a PhD in Genetics. Currently, she is a 2nd year Clinical Biochemical Genetics fellow. 

Q: What do you hope to gain from this fellowship? 

A: I hope to gain a systematic training in clinical biochemical genetics.

Q: What are you most excited about this year? 

A: I am most excited about graduating this July!

Q: How did you know this was the career path you wanted to pursue? 

A: As a PhD in Genetics, I always wanted to seek a way to utilize my expertise to participate in the clinical diagnosis and management of patients.

Liesbeth Vossaert, PhD

Our next fellow, Liesbeth Vossart, PhD, is from Ghent, Belgium. Liesbeth is a 2nd year fellow in the  Laboratory Genetics & Genomics (LGG) program.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this fellowship? 

A: I like how the LGG fellowship exposed me to a wide range of genetic tests. Also, it offered an interactive learning environment with the other fellows, residents, faculty, etc.

Q: What are you most excited about this year?

A: Graduation! I’m excited to put all that I’ve learned to good use and continue to learn through the next steps in my career.

Q: How did you know this was the career path you wanted to pursue? 

A: My mom happens to be a geneticist, so that piqued my interest early on. As I progressed through university and earned my PhD, and by working on a noninvasive prenatal testing project as a postdoc, I grew increasingly fascinated by medical genetics. My postdoc mentor introduced me to the LGG pathway and encouraged me to apply for the fellowship. This turned out to be a great decision, as it provides me the perfect combination of helping patients finding (genetic) answers and broadening my own knowledge.

Xiaonan Zhao, PhD

From Tianjin, China, Xiaonan Zhao is the next fellow we will be featuring. She recently moved from Philadelphia after working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) as a Lead Scientist in Division of Genomics Diagnostics for five years. She is currently a Laboratory Genetics and Genomics Fellow. She received her PhD in Molecular and Cell biology at Georgia Tech.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this fellowship? 

A: I came from a clinical lab in hospital settings, so I’m really curious how Baylor Genetics functions as a top-notch fast-paced industry lab with very high volumes. I would also love to learn the cutting-edge technologies and high-quality clinical tests provided here for various patient populations.

Q: What are you most excited about this year? 

A: I’m very excited to be involved in various research and test development opportunities. Also, I have finally started working on cancer cytogenetics, which I have wished to learn more about for years.

Q: How did you know this was the career path you wanted to pursue? 

A: A couple years ago when I worked at CHOP, I found the molecular diagnosis for a patient who had gone through a long diagnostic odyssey. in order to express their appreciation for the genetics service we provided, the family later decided to create a research fund at CHOP for kids with similar conditions. As a mother and a scientist, I have always been passionate about the work that could make a direct impact in the medical field, that was the very moment that I have felt I have chosen the right career path and decided to take more responsibilities to train to become a lab director and to better serve my patients and the genomics diagnostics community.

Wilson C. Wu, PhD

Wilson C. Wu is originally from Hong Kong, but has lived in Minnesota for six years prior to moving to Houston in 2019.  He has a PhD in Medical Sciences. Prior to joining the fellowship, he worked as a Research Scientist at the Mayo Clinic.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this fellowship? 

A: I hope to gain a structured and broad-based training in laboratory and medical genetics from this fellowship.

Q: What are you most excited about this year? 

A: I am most excited to start traveling for the first time since the pandemic.

Q: How did you know this was the career path you wanted to pursue? 

A: As a molecular biologist by training, I have always asked myself what I can do for patients. Now, the opportunities to improve healthcare through genetics and genomics have never been greater.

Katharina V. Schulze, PhD

Originally from Heidelberg, Germany, Katharina Schulze received her PhD prior to joining BGs’ fellowship program. She is excited to use her knowledge to help patients and their families.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this fellowship? 

A: I’m hoping to help solve genetic mysteries on a regular basis and thereby help patients, as well as their families and health care providers, to better understand their particular medical condition.

Q: What are you most excited about this year? 

A: Until their recent visit, I was most excited to finally see my parents in person again! Now I’m mostly looking forward to having a toddler that sleeps through the night.

Q: How did you know this was the career path you wanted to pursue? 

A: One of the most attractive things to me about a career in laboratory genetics and genomics is the opportunity to keep learning about human genetics and to apply that knowledge in a way that is meaningful for patients and their families.

Volkan Okur, MD

All the way from Antalya, Turkey, Volkan Okur has an international medical degree with a specialty in medical genetics. Since a young age, he has known this is the career he wanted to pursue.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this fellowship?

A: During this fellowship, I hope to increase my knowledge and experience in genetic diagnostic studies and become prepared for the upcoming board exams.

Q: What are you most excited about this year? 

A:  I am most excited for graduation and board exams in August.

Q: How did you know this was the career path you wanted to pursue?
A
: I knew this was the career path for me because I was fascinated by the news about the completion of human genome project in the early 2000s (I was 14-15 years old). From there, I began medical school (in 2002) to become a medical geneticist. 

When an individual decides to join our fellowship, our hope is that they learn all that they can, get as hands on experience as possible, and are able to accomplish all of the goals they set for themselves. While we are sad to see many of the fellow’s graduate, we are beyond proud of the work they have accomplished at BG and the work they will accomplish in the future. This is just the beginning of their career in the genetic field, and we are proud to have been a part of their journey.

About Baylor Genetics

Improving healthcare is at the core of who we are at BG. Through continuous innovation and research, our team is equipped to provide physicians the best results for their patients. We are able to diagnose rare diseases and disorders because of our existing large-scale, high-throughput capabilities and our CLIA-certified, CAP–accredited laboratory.

To learn more about our genetic tests, visit baylorgenetics.com 

For inquiries about our fellowship program, contact us. 

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