Brendan is a HEAR Class of 2024 scholar at Wake Forest University in NC, studying for a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, with an Interdisciplinary Writing Minor. Brendan has been 100% focussed on his studies and has taken many research opportunities that have been presented to him during his time at Wake Forest. His unwavering hard work means Brendan will be graduating this summer, a full year earlier than planned!

Brendan would like to sincerely thank the HEAR Scholarship Foundation, and the donors, volunteers and supporters who make HEAR’s College Success Program possible. He said, “HEAR has provided me with so much support and encouragement throughout these past few years, and I truly am grateful for everything!”

Post-graduation in May, Brendan has formally accepted a two-year post-baccalaureate fellowship position at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institute for Health (NIH) in the RNA Viruses Section with Dr. Buchholz (PI) and Dr. Le Nouen (preceptor). His general research there will involve developing improved live-attenuated viral respiratory vaccines. He will be working with one or a combination of the following: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human parainfluenza virus (HPIV), human metapneumovirus (HMPV), or SARS-CoV2. After this period, Brendan plans on pursing an M.D./Ph.D. dual degree.

During Brendan’s time at Wake Forest, he has had numerous notable achievements. Most recently, in October 2022, Brendan, along with his principal investigator and a couple of colleagues, published a review paper in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS), entitled “Epigenetic Modulation of Opioid Receptors by Drugs of Abuse.” The paper discusses how drugs of abuse can epigenetically modulate the regulation of opioid receptors, which thereby perpetuates the drug abuse condition individuals. The article is currently available on the journal’s website here.

In the summer of 2022, Brendan received a university-sponsored fellowship to continue conducting research investigating epigenetic modifications. This was a continuation of funding he was granted the previous year.

In the summer of 2021, at the end of his Freshman year, he was awarded a university-sponsored fellowship by the Center for Molecular Signaling at Wake Forest University. He submitted a proposal to work with Dr. Ke Reid (Biology Department) to gain experience in molecular biology research. Dr. Reid’s lab works with Schizosaccharomyces Pombe (a yeast species) to help discover and determine how epigenetic factors regulate gene expression. Findings were able to later be applied to human cells to help determine the underlying reasons for many diseases (diabetes, obesity, allergies, drug-addictions, etc.). Specifically, during the summer Brendan was working to elucidate the functions of two genes (Elf1 and Cue2) in S. Pombe. 

While most of the staff at the Foundation are not science experts, we are nonetheless so proud of everything that Brendan has achieved during his time at Wake Forest and we look forward to seeing where his research takes him!

Left: Brendan showcasing his research on “Epigenetic Modulation of Opioid Receptors by Drugs of Abuse.”