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Current MD-PhD Student - Ronald Besandre

Ronald Besandre

Name: Ronald Besandre

Year in Program: MY2

Undergrad University: University of Houston

Mentor: Dionicio Siegel, PhD

Graduate Program: Chemistry


    Research Interests

  • My interests lie in the interface between chemistry and biology, namely the synthesis and application of small molecules to biological systems as either mechanistic probes, diagnostic tools, or novel therapeutics.

    Honors & Awards

  • Graduation Honors - Summa Cum Laude (4.0 GPA, 2012)
  • Frank and Sara McKnight Contest Semi-Finalist in Chemistry (2012)
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship recipient from the American Chemical Society (2012)
  • Phi Kappa Phi (2012)
  • Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship recipient from the University of Houston (2011)
  • Academic Excellence Scholarship from the University of Houston (2009)


  • Besandre, Ronald; Jaimes, Miguel; May, Jeremy A. "Indoles Synthesized from Amines via Copper Catalysis." Org. Lett. 2013, 15, 1666-1669.


  • "Indoles Synthesized from Amines via Copper Catalysis." Undergraduate Research Symposium at Pfizer Global Research and Development. Groton, CT. (2012)
  • "Cu(I)-Catalyzed Synthesis of Indoles from α-Arylketones and Aldehydes." Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Houston. Houston, TX. (2012)

    Hobbies or just something about yourself in general:

  • Trying out cuisines of different cultures is a favorite pastime of mine. My other hobbies include sightseeing, reading, and singing.

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.