First Ph.D. recipient
Photo by Ashley Barnas April 03, 2017
Eddie Marks completes UD’s first Ph.D. in Medical Laboratory Sciences
Eddie Marks is the pioneer in the University of Delaware Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences. He’s the first Ph.D. graduate in program history.
Having completed a professional master’s degree in business/biotechnology at UD, Marks jumped at the opportunity of a fledging Ph.D. in the medical sciences program. Of course, Marks was interested in the program’s core courses like statistics, immunology and physiology, but the department also granted the aspiring researcher a great deal of independence.
“There is a lot of freedom to be able to choose, which is what I really liked coming in,” explained Marks, who researches how adult bone narrow stem cells can treat heart attacks. “I took a biology ethics course and a materials science course, which, by learning some of the engineering, really helped to further my research.”
With a microbiology background, Marks was used to growing cells and working under a microscope, which eased his translation into the field. He was motivated by his adviser Arun Kumar, who also took an interdisciplinary route. Kumar took an organic chemistry background and applied it to nanomedicine. As a master’s students, Marks was tapped to work on a stem cell project with Kumar. He took the preliminary data and worked on turning the stem cells into tissue types.
But research is far from Marks’ only talent. Elsevier Health reached out to Kumar about a book on thymosins, a protein class with diverse biological activities. Kumar and Marks had used one of these thymosin proteins specific to the heart — thymosin beta-4 — to turn stem cells into heart tissue. So the pair drafted a book chapter on how this protein helps heal our most vital internal organ.
“We looked at [the protein’s] role in development as the heart is growing, its natural effects after a heart attack, how the protein gets released and how we and other researchers use it to attempt to heal the heart after certain cardiac events,” said Marks.
Earlier this month, Marks successfully defended his dissertation “Adult Human Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Celled Primed for the Repair of Damaged Cardiac Tissue after Myocardial Infarction.” Half of the numbered chapters of the dissertation were published or are currently under review in scientific journals. Each of the six chapters of the dissertation is a paper to be published.
With his Ph.D. in hand, Marks is headed to private industry, which could mean consulting or science writing.
“I want to be client-facing and help an array of companies.”
Combining the time spent on the master’s and Ph.D. program, Marks completed the two degrees in only five and a half years. Around the country, the typical student finishes similar programs between six and eight years’ time. He credits the department for the unique program design and streamlined process.
“The department is very connected to the hospital [Christiana Care] and has a good reputation at the University,” said Marks. “The faculty knows every group from biology to engineering to the Life Science Research Facility and down to STAR Campus. There are connections everywhere. My dissertation committee had incredibly varied areas of expertise and that would not happen without Medical Laboratory Sciences.”