MERICIEN VENZON, MD-PhD Trainee (GS2)
Co-Founder and Program Director
A Bay Area native, Ms. Venzon graduated as Moreau Catholic High School’s Valedictorian and Associated Student Body President. Figure skating competitively since she was four years old, she also won the 2009 Philippine National Championships, earning her a spot to represent the Philippines at the 2010 Olympic Trials and 2011 World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
At UCLA, Mericien continued to compete internationally while also founding UCLA’s first national figure skating club team. In addition, she was an active member of Pilipinos for Community Health, running senior citizen health screening sites on the weekends. She first got interested in research as an undergraduate and was awarded UCLA's HHMI Undergraduate Research Scholarship. In the ER as part of UCLA’s elite Stroke Team, she assisted in enrolling patients in clinical research trials testing intra-ambulance therapy to more rapidly identify and treat cerebral ischemia. In the Alfaro lab, she pursued her interests in bioinformatics and was the first to apply mathematical models conventionally used in studies of vertebrates to viruses, including flu and HIV, to investigate differential evolutionary dynamics in nonpathogenic vs. pathogenic human viruses. She graduated with highest departmental honors from UCLA in 2014, majoring in Biology with a minor in Evolutionary Medicine. She was chosen as one of five recipients of the 2014 True Bruin Distinguished Senior Award, was honored as a Bruinlife Senior of the Year, and is featured in UCLA’s Optimist Campaign among other prestigious alumni.
She matriculated in New York University School of Medicine’s MD-PhD/Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in 2016 and joined the Cadwell Lab in March 2018. Currently in her second year of her PhD under the NIH Pre-doctoral Training Fellowship, her thesis project is looking at the interrelationships between the gut microbiome, host immune system, and intestinal parasites to identify new targets for treatment of human parasitic worm infections. She founded NYUSoM’s Women in MSTP group which helps foster community, mentorship, and allyship in a male-dominated field. Most recently, she was one of the founders of ppe2nyc.com, a centralized grassroots solution to NYC’s PPE shortage at the peak of COVID-19 that enabled PPE to be efficiently collected and distributed to hospitals, nursing homes, and homeless shelters where NYC needed it most via a text-in hotline. Her career aspirations include running her own translational research lab and specializing in neonatology. She prioritizes practicing wellness regularly through hip hop yoga, boxing, and trying to find NYC’s best pizza slice.