Claudia Cabrera, WashU Graduate Student in Molecular Genetics and Genomics, recently won the ASH Minority Hematology Graduate Award (MHGA) along with the NIH/F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31-Diversity).
If those honors aren’t enough, she’s also the first women from her family, born and raised in Cuba, who has graduated college and now gone on to pursue her graduate work here at WashU. Her first year of grad school at WashU was unlike anything she could have anticipated as things altered for everyone in 2020 when Covid-19 changed the course of everything. She shared that finals were taken over Zoom calls because no systems were in place to coordinate things when Covid first hit. That however has not deterred her in fact, done quite the opposite.
Her mentors, Matt Walter, MD, and Zhongsheng You, PhD, have helped guide her through her path for a PhD and her goals of academia and to help inspire others. In 2022 she applied for the ASH Minority Graduate Student Abstract Achievement Award (MGSAAA) and was selected to attend the conference and present her work in person which inspired her to apply for the new awards.
I always knew I wanted to do something that was science-inspired. I fell in love with science and wanted to go to an institution where I could do research that could be applied to patients.Claudia Cabrera
Claudia is currently completing her thesis project in Matthew J. Walter, MD, Division of Oncology’s lab and her thesis project focuses on targeting nonsense-mediated RNA decay (NMD) in spliceosome mutant myeloid malignancies.
She shares, her goal is to open her own lab to inspire other kids/students like her who have to immigrate to the US to continue their passion of science. She wants to help guide them with how to pursue their education, what routes to take, what is needed to be done to help guide them with their higher education goals. She is part of the MEDA leadership team for WashU and advocate for URiM trainees. And to give back to the St. Louis community that has helped welcome her, she joined a tutoring program that started with high school students and now students of all grades primarily from underrepresented backgrounds that need help. As a PhD student you have a lot of difficult moments in science, but when you go and tutor kids who think you’re an amazing hero who knows everything about math and science, it’s an amazing experience.