Zalaya Ivy ’11 graduated from Montclair State University with a BS in Molecular Biology and a minor in Chemistry in 2011. She then attended Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City and pursued her Master’s in Biological and Physical Sciences. Ivy was one of the 10 mentor/mentee teams, on the national level, selected to receive a grant from The Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship Program. This program facilitates scientific mentoring and a one-on-one relationship between a successful physician scientist and a physician scientist in the making. Currently, she is pursuing her M.D. at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., and plans to graduate in 2018.
Ivy conducts research on the extension of a previously funded single institution feasibility trial, exploring the use of budesonide inhalation suspension to attenuate pulmonary inflammation after an episode of acute chest syndrome (ACS) in children with sickle cell disease. She believes this is important because “ACS is a major cause of morbidity in children with sickle cell disease and although it is not FDA approved, there are treatments that exist for prevention,” she notes. “I chose to work with children because I LOVE them and I hate the thought of them not having a healthy start in life,” adds Ivy.
Being awarded a grant from The Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship Program, is very important to her.“It has been my lifelong aspiration to facilitate a change in the treatment and management of Sickle Cell Disease. I believe that scientific exploration is the first step in improving quality of life for individuals with Sickle Cell Disease, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn from Dr. Michael R. DeBaun, a physician scientist who is at the forefront of research and innovations in Sickle Cell Disease,” says Ivy.
While attending Montclair State University, Ivy was involved with The Honors Program and The Health Careers program. Being a part of the Honors Program and attending orientation was where she met her best friend who since then has been a “constant source of encouragement, support and humor”. Nevertheless, being involved with the Health Careers Program offered her endless opportunities.
Taking Biochemistry 1 and 2 with Dr. Jim Dyer during her undergraduate experience at Montclair helped her in the long run with her career in Medical School. The rigor of the courses were similar to what she was going to encounter later on in Medical School. Moreover, taking genetics with Dr. Kirsten Monsen-Collar provided her with an excellent foundation which has made genetics one of her strongest subjects to date.
The relationship and connections she built with both Professors Dyer and Monse-Collar were as important as the ones she built with Dr. Gregory Walters, the Director of Honors Program and Ms. Washington from the Health Careers Program.
“Drs. Dyer and Monsen-Collar had a large impact as their courses not only pushed me outside of my academic comfort zone, but they also provided a constant source of support, and even supplied letters of recommendation for my medical school application. Dr. Gregory Waters, believed I could reach the fullest heights of my potentials and my ability to attain admission into medical school. Last but not least, Ms. Washington and the Health Careers Program, gave me many opportunities while a student at Montclair State,” says Ivy.
When asked what advice she would give to students who are hoping to follow in her footsteps, she expresses the importance of mentorship. “I advise students who aspire to attain a career in health sciences to seek out a mentor in that field. Specifically, I encourage Montclair State students to reach out to alumnae for mentorship. Receiving advice and encouragement from a mentor is invaluable, and having the opportunity to learn from the journey of someone who has achieved is a precious gift,” says Ivy.