« Back

Current MD-PhD Student - Christien Kluwe


Name: Christien Kluwe

Year in Program: MY3

Undergrad University: The University of Miami

Mentor: Andy Ellington, Ph.D., and George Georgiou Ph.D.

Graduate Program: Cellular and Molecular Biology


    Research Interests

  • Protein Engineering, Applied Immunology

    Honors & Awards

  • Henry King Stanford Scholarship 2000-2004


  • Robotham SA, Kluwe C, Cannon JR, Ellington A, Brodbelt JS. De novo sequencing of peptides using selective 351 nm ultraviolet photodissociation mass spectrometry. Anal Chem. 2013 Oct 15; 85 (2): 9832-8 doi: 10.1021/ac402309h
  • Der BS, Kluwe C, Miklos AE, Jacak R, Lyskov S, Gray JJ, Georgiou G, Ellington AD, Kuhlman B. Alternative computational protocols for supercharging protein surfaces for reversible unfolding and retention of stability. PLoS One. 2013 May 31;8(5):e64363 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064363.
  • Miklos AE, Kluwe C, Der BS, Pai S, Sircar A, Hughes RA, Berrondo M, Xu J, Codrea V, Buckley PE, Calm AM, Welsh HS, Warner CR, Zacharko MA, Carney JP, Gray JJ, Georgiou G, Kuhlman B, Ellington AD. Structure-based design of supercharged, highly thermoresistant antibodies. Chem Biol. 2012 Apr 20;19(4):449-55 doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.01.018.
  • Kluwe C, Ellington AD. Evolution: RNA GPS. Science. 2010 Oct 15;330(6002):330-1 doi: 10.1126/science.1197667


  • 2013 University of Texas System MD/PhD Retreat, Sept 2013 - Austin, TX
    Talk: "High Throughput Repertoire Analysis for Antibody Discovery"
  • 2013 University of Texas System MD/PhD Retreat, Sept 2013 - Austin, TX
    Poster: "High Throughput Repertoire Analysis for Antibody Discovery"
  • 2013 ASM Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference, Feb 2013 - Washington, D.C.
    Poster: "A Multiplexed Approach for Rapid Filovirus Detection"
  • 2013 American Society for Mass Spectrometry, Jan 2013 - St. Pete Beach, FL
    Poster: "Comparison of 193 nm UVPD, HCD, and CID for Characterization of Engineered Green Fluorescent Protein Isoforms with Varying Isoelectric Points"
  • 2011 IBC International Antibody Engineering Conference, Dec 2011 - San Diego, CA
    Poster: "Surface Charge Engineering of scFvs for Enhanced Biological Activity"
  • 2011 National MD/PhD Student Conference, July 2011 - Keystone, CO
    Presentation: "Surface Charge Engineering of scFvs for Enhanced Biological Activity"
  • 2011 National MD/PhD Student Conference, July 2011 - Keystone, CO
    Poster: "Surface Charge Engineering of scFvs for Enhanced Biological Activity"
  • Genetics and Biology of Childhood Cancer 2010 Symposium, Feb 2010 - San Antonio, TX
    Poster: "Targeting the RNA Binding Protein Musashi1 for Therapy in Tumors of Neural Origin
  • Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence - Therapy Response, May 2009 - Stanford, CA
    Poster: "Selection of Aptamers Against Novel Biomarkers"

    Hobbies or just something about yourself in general:

  • I enjoy motorcycles and fitness in my spare time. I've had the great fortune to work with some innovative startup companies in the Austin area as a Texas Venture Labs associate and am always looking for an opportunity to continue these interests.

Career Development

The career development of an MD-PhD student is critically important and extends out well past the date of graduation with the dual degrees. The UTMB MD-PhD Program carefully guides and nurtures students throughout the Program. Early in the Program, critical issues are mentor selection and choice of a graduate program. MD-PhD students meet regularly with a faculty advisor, a student "big sibling" and members of the advisory committee. Opportunities to be exposed to research opportunities are provided through Program activities as well as the scientific activities on campus. Most students do their initial laboratory rotation during the summer before starting medical school. Additional laboratory rotations can be completed during the summer before the first and second years of medical school and after the second year of medical school. Once students are established in their labs, they are guided through their research by a mentor and dissertation committee.

For MD-PhD students, selection of the dissertation committee is essential and our Program requires students to include a member who is an MD scientist who can provide guidance on career progress and residency selections. As thesis defense approaches, students design their optimal clinical experiences with members of the MD-PhD committee to maximize chances to obtain the types of residency training that will be most compatible with further development as a physician scientist. The Program runs career guidance seminars to alert students to many of the important issues, pitfalls and milestones that they will need to navigate in the future. These include the pros and cons of short-track residencies, the need for additional postdoctoral training, and how to select and negotiate a first faculty appointment. The UTMB MD-PhD graduate is thus well positioned to make the most out of the advantages that MD-PhD careers offer.