Da Eun (Dana) Im '10


Dana is currently attending Harvard Medical School.

¡Hola y bienvenidos! I graduated from Wellesley College in 2010 with a major in Neuroscience and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. I chose Wellesley because I knew I would be able to continue expanding my research experience at Wellesley by really getting to know my professors in a nurturing environment. Wellesley did indeed meet my expectations. Immediately upon arriving at Wellesley College as a first year student, I expressed my passion in research to Professor Tetel, who gladly accepted me to join his research team.

Ever since joining the Tetel lab, I have worked on studying how hormones act in the brain to regulate gene expression and behavior. During the first two years in the lab, I collaborated with Mackensie Yore (’08) to study protein-protein interactions between nuclear steroid receptors (estrogen and progestin receptors) and their coregulators from female rat brain. For my senior thesis project, I developed a pull-down assay using sub-cloned mouse progestin receptor subtypes (A and B) and coactivator proteins from female mouse brain. Using the mouse model, we hope to find identify the key molecules involved in ovarian hormone-receptor mediated gene expression in brain.

My research was funded through an Endocrine Society Research Fellowship, which also provided funding for me to present my research at the 2008 Endocrine Society Conference in San Francisco. I also collaborated with Mackensie Yore (’08) on our previous project, which we presented at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in 2007.

In addition to investigating the molecular mechanism of neural disorders, I am interested in studying how social factors construct our health. Wellesley’s interdisciplinary approach has allowed me to connect my major, Neuroscience and my minor, Women’s and Gender Studies, to merge my passion in clinical and social medicine.  In summer 2009, I worked in Guatemala to evaluate how congenital defects are detected, diagnosed, and treated at a government health clinic that oversees 180 rural villages. By immersing myself in these impoverished communities and interviewing the local women and their healthcare providers, I have gained a broad perspective of maternal-fetal health—often times inevitably shaped by the social and economic structures of our society.

My field research, which was originally designed to observe the status of maternal-fetal health in a rural community, evolved into a community health program in El Triunfo, Guatemala. I continued shaping the project with the villagers when I revisited El Triunfo in November 2009 with another travel grant from Wellesley. In summer 2010, I returned to El Triunfo for the third time, but this time with seven Wellesley students. We successfully launched Proyecto Doctoritas, a community health program that: (1) provides ten teenage girls with full three-year scholarships to attend middle school and (2) trains these girls as community health workers (hence the name "doctoritas"). We thank the local leaders and health professionals, the villagers, and our generous donors for helping us maintain and sustain the program as it is in its second year of the pilot stage. This summer, four Wellesley students will return to El Triunfo to assess the progress and to retrain the doctoritas. In medical school, I hope to be more involved in improving and expanding the program with the help of my colleagues in the field of medicine and public health.

After graduating from Wellesley, I received a Master of Philosophy degree (M.Phil) in Public Health at the University of Cambridge in England. This one-year program has been fully funded by the Wellesley College Susan Rappaport Knafel ’52 Scholarship for Foreign Study and the University of Cambridge Overseas Trust Scholarship for Graduate Studies. I have focused my training in public health on how academic and clinical research in genetics can be incorporated into improving the health of all members of our community—locally, nationally, and globally. I am currently working with the Public Health Genetics Foundation (PHG), an international non-profit research organization based in Cambridge, to conduct my master’s degree dissertation project on developing a universal blueprint for designing, establishing, and maintaining a comprehensive surveillance system for congenital disorders.

After returning from England in 2011, I began my medical training (M.D.) at Harvard Medical School. I am now a third-year medical student, getting ready to dedicate my medical vocation in public health to promote justice (health and human rights) and serve patients in need. After this academic year (2013-14), I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in public policy (M.P.P.) at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where I will focus on how best to address problems of health and social inequalities. The majority of my education will be supported by the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which awards up to $90,000 over two academic years to support the graduate educations of 30 New Americans each year. This is a short article on the fellowship published on the Wellesley website:




Shannon G.D., Im, D., Katzelnick, L., Franco, O.H. Gender equity and health: Evaluating the impact of Millennium Development Goal Three on women’s health in South Asia. Women & Health 2013, 53(3):217-43.

Palazuelos, D., Ellis, K., Im, D, Pckarsky, M., Schwarz, D., Farmer, D., Dhillon, R., Johnson, A., Orihuela, C., Hackett, J., Bazile, J., Berman, L., Ballard, M., Panjabi, R., Slavin, S., Lee, S., and Selinsky, S. 5-SPICE: An Original Framework for Community Health Worker Program Design, Quality Improvement and Research Agenda Setting. Global Health Action 2013, 6: 19658.

Yore, M.A., Im, D., Webb, L.K., Zhao, Y., Chadwick, J.G.Jr., Molenda-Figueira, H.A., Haidacher, S.J., Denner, L.A. and Tetel, M.J. Steroid receptor coactivator-2 (SRC-2) expression in brain and physical associations with steroid receptors. Neuroscience, In press.

Im, D., Gold, N., Lin, A.E. Trends in hospital-based surveillance of sex chromosome abnormality syndromes. New England Regional Genetics Group Annual Meeting, 2009.

Im, D., Yore, M.A., Chadwick, J.G., Tetel, M.J. Steroid receptor coactivator-2 (SRC-2) from rat brain interacts differently with estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor subtypes. The Endocrine Society, 2008.

Yore, M.A., Im, D., Chadwick, J.G., Tetel, M.J. Steroid receptor coactivator-2 (SRC-2) from female rat hypothalamus and hippocampus interacts differently with the progestin receptor isoforms. Society for Neuroscience, 2007.

Tetel, M.J., Molenda, H.A., Yore, M.A., Im, D., Chadwick, J.G., Steroid hormone action: From the test tube to the brain. International Congress of Neuroethology, Vancouver, Canada, 2007.

D. Im. Roles of Auxotrophic Markers in Candida albicans Virulence. Bulletin on Southern California Science. 2005 Aug; 104(2); 64.

D. Im., Y. Suzuki, J. Litvin. Expression of Periostin-Like-Factor in Loaded and Unloaded Human Hearts. Journal of Association for Academic Minority Physicians. 2004 Oct; 15(1): 20.

Fall 2006-Spring 2010: Neuroscience Program, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
Student Researcher
Advisor: Marc Tetel, Ph.D.
Research sponsored by the Endocrine Society Summer Research Fellowship Award (08), Sherman Fairchild Foundation Summer Research Award (08), Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant (Summer 07), and NSF-AIRE Sophomore Early Research (07-08)
- Determined the ligand-dependent physical interaction between progestin receptor (PR-A and PR-B) and SRC-2 from the female rat and mice brains using pull-down assays and western blotting.
- Senior Thesis Project: “Understanding Hormone Action in the Brain: Interactions between Mouse Progestin Receptor Subtypes and Steroid Receptor Coactivators”; Graduated with Honors in Neuroscience, May 2010.

Summer 2006: Rosetta Inpharmatics (Merck and Co. Inc), Seattle, WA
Summer Intern
Advisors: Michele Cleary, Ph.D. and Jill Magnus
Research sponsored by Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP)
- Induced downregulation of E2F1 gene in HeLa breast cancer cell line using RNAi techniques (siRNA and shRNA) and profiled gene expressions of affected proteins in the E2F1 signaling pathway.

Fall 2004-Spring 2006: Infectious Diseases Division - Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Torrance, CA
Volunteer Researcher
Advisors: Scott G. Filler, M.D. and Hyunsook Park, Ph.D.
Research sponsored by Southern California Academy of Sciences (SCAS)
- Observed the virulence factors of Candida albicans to identify URA as one of the crucial auxotrophic markers in affecting the virulence of the organism.
- Mutagenic analysis of the cytochrome P450 14α-demethylase (CkCyp51p) to azole drug resistance in Candida krusei by using Saccharomyces cerevisiae model that was subjected to point mutations. 

Summer 2004 & Summer 2005: Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology - Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
Summer Intern
Advisor: Judith Litvin, Ph.D.
Research sponsored by Physician Scientist Training Program (PSTP)
- Investigated the expression of Periostin-Like-Factor (PLF) on cardiac myocytes from loaded and unloaded adult hearts.
- Observed the effects of PLF on hypertrophic growth of cardiac myocytes.


Summer 2012: Partners in Health (PIH), Boston, MA.
Student Researcher
Equipo Técnico de Educación en Salud Comunitaria (ETESC), Huehuetenango, Guatemala
Advisor: Daniel Palazuelos, M.D., M.P.H.
Lead researcher for summer project: “Evaluation of a single visit approach to cervical cancer prevention and treatment in rural Guatemala”; Evaluating a single visit approach (SVA) to cervical cancer prevention and treatment program in rural Guatemala; consolidating patient data to understand the population of women screened and treated for cervical cancer in Santa Ana Huista, Huehuetenango; establishing database for program and clinical monitoring the patients; interviewing on-site Guatemalan health care providers to gather ideas for improving and expanding the existing program.
Summer 09: Municipal of Gualan Governmental Health Center, Zacapa, Guatemala

Summer Intern
The Guatemalan Project and the Ministry of Public Health and Services (MSAPS);
Advisors: Cecilia Campoverde, Ph.D. and Maria Eugenia Portilljo, M.D.
Research sponsored by Susan Rappaport Knafel ’52 International Internship Fund
-  (1) Assess the quality and accessibility of antenatal care provided by the governmental health center that oversees 50,000 residents dispersed throughout rural regions; (2) Identified common birth defects in the region, (3) Analyzed maternity demographic patterns using past birth records; (4) Developed permanent database system to assess the needs of pregnant women visiting the clinic; (5) Interviewed women in a rural community to identify barriers to antenatal care

Summer 08-Present: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Research Assistant
The Active Malformation Surveillance Program, Teratology;
Advisors: Lewis Holmes, M.D. and Angela Lin, M.D.
- Conduct interviews with the mother of each newborn diagnosed with a congenital malformation to gather information about pregnancy, family history, prenatal testing
Summer 09 Project: Investigating the association between different Turner Syndrome types and congenital heart defects

January 09: Save A Child’s Heart (SACH), Holon, Israel
Full-time Volunteer—SACH Children’s Home and Wolfson Medical Center
Sponsored by Wellesley College Travel Grant
- (1) Lived in the SACH Children’s Home to supervise children brought from developing countries to Israel for life-saving surgery for their congenital cardiac defect; (2) Assisted children during their surgery and other pre- and post- operation procedures at the Wolfson Medical Center