CHE Alumnus Credits URI for Strong Foundation in Research
By Neil Nachbar
Chris Bobba hopes to someday become a cardiothoracic surgeon. Along his journey, he’ll be expected to complete years of intense research in the biomedical engineering M.D-Ph.D. dual degree program at The Ohio State University (OSU), and later in a surgical residency.
The Portsmouth, RI native feels prepared for the challenges that await him, thanks to the education and experience he received while completing his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 2013 from the University of Rhode Island.
“I was initially exposed to research at URI under the direction of Geoff Bothun in URI’s chemical engineering program,” said Bobba. “Dr. Bothun was a mentor of mine who played a critical role in my undergraduate development. He helped ground me in scientific research and prepare me for my graduate studies.”
Bobba was recognized for his academic achievements at URI in 2012 when he was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, considered to be the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship for those interested in careers in science and engineering. As a senior at URI, Bobba attended the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) National Meeting and won first place in the poster competition.
His goal of continuing his education at a university that offers a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) was realized when he was accepted to OSU. Less than 50 institutions in the country have an MSTP.
“I was accepted to a few programs, but I chose OSU because I was interested in CT surgery and they have some excellent research in that area,” said Bobba. “My research involves work with mechanical ventilators and ex vivo lung perfusion.”
In December 2017, Bobba was invited to speak about his research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as part of the Midwestern Speaker Exchange. The Speaker Exchange arranges for Ohio State and another Midwestern university to swap senior Ph.D. students to present their research at a seminar for the respective college. The topic of Bobba’s presentation was “Alveolar macrophage mechanotransduction in ventilator-induced lung injury.”
“It was an awesome opportunity to present my work as an invited speaker,” stated Bobba. “The graduate students and professors in the audience gave me great feedback on my project, including some ideas for future work.”
Bobba expects to complete the M.D-Ph.D. program in 2021, at which time he’ll start his surgical residency.
“There is only a handful of those positions in the nation, so I’ll keep all options open for that,” said Bobba. “Boston would be nice a place to end up.”
Boston also wouldn’t be too far from his hometown or URI, where his passion for research was cultivated.