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 perspectivesa 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
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
"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."
Go back to News & Views Index