PhD/MD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University
Azucena Ramos is the child of immigrants from Mexico
Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD/MD in Cancer and Stem Cell Biology and Medicine at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University
Born in Escondido, California, Azucena was a caregiver to her three younger sisters. In middle and high school she excelled in math and discovered a love of science. A turning point came early in her life when her undocumented grandmother nearly died of pneumonia, unable to seek care. Seeing her grandmother suffer, Azucena vowed to become a doctor.
After high school, Azucena attended Smith College where she expanded her vision for her medical career to becoming a physician-scientist. Her research and senior thesis on axon guidance in the zebrafish brain was awarded highest honors and she became a national Beckman Scholar. Hoping to attract younger students to science, Azucena helped create an outreach program for elementary schools with age-appropriate chemistry and biology experiments.
Following graduation, Azucena worked as a research assistant at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, where her work created new possibilities for understanding physiological blood formation, cancer, and cancer stem cells.
Azucena is presently enrolled at Harvard Medical School pursuing an MD and PhD in cancer and stem cell biology. She plans to continue serving and empowering underprivileged communities through her volunteer work teaching sexual education in Boston Public Schools and at Harvard's student-run clinic serving immigrant populations.