Where are They Now?
TSRI Alumnus Rick Bruick

Graduating Class: '98

Labs at TSRI: The Mayfield lab in the Cell Biology Department and the Joyce lab in the Molecular Biology Department.

Dissertation Title: "Controlling Protein Synthesis."

Experience at TSRI: Bruick says, "My experience at TSRI was great. When I was looking at graduate schools, I was impressed by TSRI's research, faculty, and students, even though at the time the program was only a few years old. I liked the emphasis on bringing together the disciplines of chemistry and biology, and I enjoyed the opportunity to do things in a nontraditional way. [In my case,] I had the freedom to work in two different labs. As long as the P.I.s [principal investigators] were happy and I was making progress, it was fine...

"I left TSRI with a good overall foundation and training, and a skill set that allowed me to pursue a project of interest from a lot of different angles and perspectives—a broad-based training that was important to me. That is a credit to TSRI and the P.I.s I worked with. I had a lot of good role models there, [who demonstrated] a strong work ethic and true approach to science."

His Advisors Recall...: Associate Professor Steve Mayfield says: "Rick was... one of these kids who had an undergraduate degree in biochemistry but knew he wanted to study biological systems. He was an interesting guy to have in my lab. Because he was a chemist, he brought with him technology that we didn't have. It was productive for both of us. Rick was hard-working, focused, and critical. I liked that. He offered a different perspective. He would come into our lab meetings and question the assumptions made in our field. It was good for the science."

Professor Gerald Joyce adds: "Rick did a double Ph.D., working in two labs. That was typical Rick. He manages to keep all the balls up in the air. He is the kind of person you want in a lab... strong-minded and determined. He is a star, no doubt about it."

Undergraduate Institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Family Life: Married.

Current Position: Postdoctoral fellow in the McKnight lab at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Research Focus: Bruick's current research focus is related to an interest he developed at TSRI in biological responses to environmental cues. He is currently investigating the manner in which cells sense changes in oxygen concentration in their environment and respond, a process called the mammalian hypoxic response pathway. Specifically, Bruick is studying the regulation of a transcription factor in this pathway called HIF (hypoxia inducable factor).

"The mammalian hypoxic response pathway is critical during development and in tumor progression," Bruick explains. "As tumors begin to grow and expand, their oxygen supply becomes restricted. Tumors ensure their own survival by growing new blood vessels or switching to glycolytic metabolism."

Plans for the Future: "Now I've been a postdoc for three years, I'm looking for another position. My intention is to stay in my current field of hypoxia."


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TSRI Alumnus Rick Bruick says, "I left TSRI with a good overall foundation and training, and a skill set that allowed me to pursue a project of interest from a lot of different angles and perspectives."