Travis HullTravis HullGraduate School: Where are you from?
Travis Hull: I am from Summerhill, Pennsylvania, a very rural suburb of Johnstown, the Flood City. It is about 2 hours east of Pittsburgh.

GS: What degree(s) did you receive and when?
TH: In 2009, I received a Bachelor of Science degree from Juniata College, a small liberal arts institution in Huntingdon, PA (about 20 miles from Penn State).

GS: How long have you been at UAB?
TH: I moved to Birmingham in June 2009, so I have been at UAB for almost 6 years.

GS: What is your research?
TS: We study the role of the immunomodulatory and cytoprotective enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), in regulating the inflammatory response after injury or transplantation of the heart and the kidney.

GS: Why did you choose UAB for your graduate studies?
TH: I chose UAB because of the excellent structure, oversight, and organization of the Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD). The program’s directors are prominent physician-scientists and dedicated advocates for the training program. In addition, the collaborative atmosphere at UAB attracted me to the program because of the number of established mentors who have produced successful trainees.

GS: What awards or honors have you received?
TH: I was recently awarded the Joint Heath Sciences Outstanding Student Award for 2015. I have recieved several awards for presenting my research at different conferences including UAB’s Medical Student Research Day, the 2014 International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, BioIron, and Oxidative Stress, in Sydney, Australia and the Samuel B. Baker Award for Excellence in Research by a Graduate Student at the UAB Department of Medicine Trainee Research Symposium. Also, we recieved the Top Oral Abstract by a Trainee distinction from the American Society of Nephrology during Kidney Week 2014. I have recieved travel awards from the UAB Center for Free Radical Biology, the Burroughs-Wellcome Fund for the Association for Clinical and Translational Science annual meeting, the American Physician Scientists Association Institutional Travel Award for the ASCI/AAP Joint Meeting, and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Travel Award. Also, I was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society after completing my first two years of medical school.

GS: What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?
TH: My most rewarding experience has been participation in student-led groups within UAB’s medical and graduate schools. In particular, my involvement in UAB’s Chapter of the American Physician Scientist Association (APSA) has given me the opportunity to network with fellow trainees as well as established physician-scientists at UAB and nationally. This has provided me with a number of opportunities to meet and get to know a number of mentors and role models to emulate. Our APSA Chapter’s success at UAB and within the National APSA organization has been very rewarding, and has provided me with ample opportunities to develop and improve my leadership skills in the context of science and medicine.

GS: Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?
TH: My mentors. Particularly, Drs. James George, Anupam Agarwal and Robin Lorenz. By example, Dr. Lorenz has taught me a lot about professionalism, and her steadfast commitment to the next generation of physician-scientist is inspirational. My research mentor, Dr. George, has taught me the value of collegiality in addition to how to think like a scientist. His enthusiasm for basic science research makes me excited for the future. My co-mentor, Dr. Agarwal, is the quintessential physician-scientist, and I have learned a lot from watching him successfully manage his numerous professional responsibilities while maintaining the highest possible integrity and respect from his colleagues.

GS: What is your motivation in your academics/research?
TH: My ultimate motivation is to learn the skills and personal attributes necessary to eventually make a significant, even if small, contribution to patient care with my future career through both direct clinical care and by advancing clinical care through biomedical research. I am also motivated by the potential to someday help and support others pursuing this career path.

GS: What are your plans after graduating and for the future?
TH: I will finish my PhD in May 2015 and return to clinical rotations as a third year medical student in June 2015, with an expected completion date for my MD/PhD in June 2017. After that, I plan to pursue training in cardiothoracic surgery during residency. I plan to continue research throughout residency, which is common in surgical training pathways, and to one-day focus on treating cardiac transplant patients and researching the immunological mechanisms underlying graft rejection.

GS:  Is there anything else you’d like to say?
TH: I would like to thank all of my colleagues and mentors at UAB, who are too numerous to name, for their contribution to my training.

GS: What advice would you offer to other graduate students?
TH: Science can be discouraging, but the rewards (even when they are few and far between) make it all worth it, so stick with it and work hard. Also, seek out additional mentors and the new perspectives that they provide as much as possible.

See more student spotlights here. You can nominate a student you believe deserves to be recognized by sending an email to juliemck@uab.edu.