Earning an undergraduate degree from UCLA in 2009 and a Ph.D. from MIT in 2014, Aaron Meyer now runs his own lab at MIT where he uses engineering tools to research the function of a family of receptors in the body and discover how to make better drugs to fight cancer. His work has been published in a number of scientific journals, and he was recently recognized by the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award.
“In many diseases, a myriad of changes occur all at once and it’s usually not clear which ones we should counteract. Being able to measure these changes is important to making progress in understanding how to treat diseases, as well as developing tools to interpret these changes. We have an unprecedented ability to make a variety of molecular measurements, and I’m excited to see how science will develop from studying living systems to engineering them.
My research focuses on how a particular family of receptors—proteins that send information from outside to inside the cell—function together. Cancer cells use these receptors to survive, spread throughout the body, and avoid the immune system, so others have already begun to develop drugs manipulating them. We want to know when and where these receptors are active, which will help determine which patients will benefit from these therapies and help us identify how to make even better drugs.
It’s exciting to be able to work on challenging problems every day with the potential to improve people’s lives. I work for the moments when we learn something new, and know what we’re studying is going on in ourselves.
One of the most important aspects of the Amgen Scholars Program is when it happens. With myself, I had just finished my second year of college, and the program made it possible for me to work in a lab over the summer. While I had volunteered in a lab part-time the year before, that period of time allowed me to focus without classes and really made it clear to me that I wanted to pursue research as a career.”View all Ten To Watch