Melanie Markovic, Physiology

Student Name: Melanie Markovic
Department: Physiology

Research Title: Novel Role of the Intestinal Epithelial Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 Receptor in Regulating Mouse Microvillus Structure and Lipid Absorption
Supervisor: Dr. Patricia Brubaker

Description of Your Research Tissue-specific synthesis, secretion and biological activities of intestinal peptide hormones, with a particular focus on the proglucagon-derived peptides, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucagon-like peptide-2 (GLP-2) and their roles in regulating growth and function of the beta-cell and the intestinal tract.

Why Did you Choose this Department I find the functional complexity and intricacy of the human body fascinating. I chose the Physiology Department to conduct my research because physiology takes a board approach to studying the body. It focuses on systems, and how they interact and influence the overall function of the body, while taking into consideration molecular, genomic, proteomic, ionic, cellular, organ, and whole organism. 

How was your Experience Looking for a Research Opportunity As with many research labs at the University of Toronto, it was competitive to find a spot in a lab who’s work interested me. Contacting the professors early was important, as well as having a board range of research interests. 

When Did you Start your Research Experience I began my PhD in September 2013

Why Did You Choose this Supervisor One of the biggest strengths of my supervisor, Dr. Brubaker, is her mentorship skills. Part of being a great scientist is educating the next generation on how to conduct thorough research, and Dr. Brubaker excels in this area.  She teaches us how to design and interpret experiments, how to approach problems, and think critically about our data. More importantly, you can see that she cares about her students, and wants them to excel once they graduate.

What’s Your Experience with Research: Research is not an easy field to pursue. Experiments are not always as straight forward as they seem on paper, and can involve a lot of trouble shooting. The key is having a real passion and interest in it, along with perseverance. As long as you enjoy the fundamental exploration of science and research, then the inherent difficulty is worth it.

How’s the Social Experience with Research: The Department of Physiology is quite social. We all know each other on the floor, and socialize over lunch in the departmental lunchroom.  Our graduate student association organizes monthly activities, giving a chance to meet fellow students within the department who work in different labs or at different research institutes. They also run a weekly coffee breaks for faculty and graduate students to enjoy free coffee, timbits, and share a little conversation. In addition, the graduate student association organizes an annual departmental BBQ, and there is an annual departmental holiday luncheon. Plus, we can participate in the Faculty of Medicine organized social activities. There are many opportunities within our department to interact and meet new people.

Future Career Plans: With the number of potential career options increasing for PhD graduates, it is hard to decide exactly which direction I want to pursue once I graduate. Although staying in research is always a great career path, and something I am interested in pursuing, I am also looking to different fields, one of which is law school.