Early Career Scientist Leadership Spotlight — Alessandro Bailetti
We’re taking time over the following weeks to get to know the members of the GSA’s Early Career Scientist Committees. Join us every week to learn more about our early career scientist advocates.
Co-Chair, Early Career Scientist Steering Committee
Liaison to the Board of Directors
New York University School of Medicine
My research focuses on blood development and uses Drosophila as a model organism to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying human leukemia. Drosophila has the same cell signaling pathways and molecular processes found in humans; however, it lacks the genetic redundancies present in vertebrate systems, making Drosophila a powerful genetic model to study complex systems in a simplified and straightforward manner. Currently, I am characterizing new genes involved in JAK/STAT signaling and blood development, and we hope that our findings will help elucidate future treatments for blood diseases, particularly myeloproliferative neoplasms.
As a PhD-trained scientist, you have many career options. What career paths interest you the most?
I am from Peru, born in Lima and raised in Pisco, and I grew up on my family’s farm. As a child, I saw my father and grandfather use basic genetics to improve their crops and cattle. The first time I saw a liquid nitrogen tank was at our farm, not in a lab. I was destined to develop a passion of genetics and life sciences.
In the last few years, many research groups have begun using model organisms for personalized medicine. This approach fascinates me and holds great potential for researchers and clinicians alike. Ultimately, I would like to become a professor in an academic research institution. I want to study human illnesses using basic science. I believe there is much to discover using model organisms, and I want to join a lab that works on similar problems.
In addition to your research, how else do you want to advance the scientific enterprise?
Currently, I am an active member of two groups that help the next generation of scientists. The first one, the Clear Direction Mentoring Program, is a graduate student-run group that matches graduate students with minority high school students from the New York City area. The goal of the program is to increase the number of minorities entering into the STEM field. The second program, Research Experience for Peruvian Undergraduates, or REPU, is a program run by graduate students and postdocs that connects undergraduate students in Peru with research laboratories around the world. This program gives Peruvian undergraduates the chance to engage in research internships abroad to increase their research experiences that they would not be able to find in Peru.
I am a strong proponent of helping the next generation of scientists to understand the potential of a career in research. I want to be a role model for low-income, community college educated, underrepresented minorities, and immigrant students like me, to show them they can achieve their goals.
As a leader within the Genetics Society of America, what do you hope to accomplish?
As a Liaison to the Board of Directors, I hope to represent the diversity and potential of all the trainee members of the Society. I have met many trainees at different conferences and symposia, and I am impressed by their diverse career paths, as well as by their personal diverse backgrounds. But all of them have one thing in common: their passion for the advancement of scientific and biomedical knowledge. I hope to be a voice to the Board to communicate that desire so that the Society can contribute to their training properly.
Previous Leadership Experience
- Mentor and Member of the Board of Directors – Clear Direction Mentoring Program
- Mentor – Research Experience for Peruvian Undergraduates
- Financial Officer – Minority Graduate Student Network of New York
- Treasurer – NYU Sackler Student Council
- Peer Mentor – Jack Kent Cooke Foundation