Sheps King-McAlpin, M.D./Ph.D. student
Explores insulin signaling
“Sheps is not afraid to tackle challenging projects and attacks them with persistence and dedication. His steadfast approach to science will serve him well in his future endeavors.” – Megan Meyer, Administrator, Molecular Medicine Graduate Program
• Hometown: Eatonton, GA
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Matthew Potthoff
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? MD/PhD, May 2023
• Please describe your research: My lab studies a liver-derived hormone called fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21). FGF21 helps insulin transport sugar from the bloodstream into the tissues of rodents and primates. I want to understand how FGF21 accomplishes this at a cellular level.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? Human patients with type II diabetes have insulin resistance, a condition where insulin is unable to effectively transport sugar into their tissues. FGF21 is able to bypass insulin resistance and restore insulin’s function in diabetic animals. I want to identify FGF21’s mechanism of improving insulin sensitivity in order develop new therapies for diabetic patients.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? Immediately
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? My research experience at University of Iowa has improved my critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I now have a better understanding of biology at the physiological, cellular, and molecular levels. These skills helped me throughout my coursework and clinical rotations completed thus far. Research has also taught me to be more patient, perseverant, and disciplined. These characteristics not only help me achieve my career goals, but also greatly contribute to my personal development in general.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I plan to complete a physician-scientist training program (PSTP) in psychiatry after graduation.
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