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Bryan Ho: Research tells an important story

Bryan Ho

Bryan Ho grew up in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and as a young student, his Eastern Panhandle community gave him the support, resources and opportunities to succeed. He found his way to WVU with research on his mind and a desire to give back to his state. As a biochemistry major in his fourth year at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, he’s working under research mentor Blake Mertz on his thesis, “Identifying Characteristics of Drug Molecules That Suppress Inflammation in the Body Using Computational Methods.”

Each day we are in the lab, we are slowly writing pages of our novel that will one day be pieced together to tell a cohesive story.

Q: Tell us about your research and what you’ve learned from it.

A: I mainly perform virtual docking simulations of small-molecule compounds docking onto the platelet-activating factor receptor (PAFR) which is a G-protein-coupled receptor that plays a major role in many inflammatory responses in the body. Ideally, we are trying to characterize the structure-function relationship of the receptor to map the activation mechanism and potentially identify a small-molecule drug candidate that suppresses those inflammatory responses, which we can then send off to our collaborators for pre-clinical trials. 

Q: What’s your favorite part of your work?

A: I love seeing my research come to life. With every project, we are essentially telling a story. Each day we are in the lab, we are slowly writing pages of our novel that will one day be pieced together to tell a cohesive story. That process is something I truly appreciate. Also, my mom has had chronic health issues for as long as I can remember, and I feel like my research is a fulfilling way I can contribute to the future generations that will have to experience the same health problems my mom does. 

Q: Where do you see yourself in a decade?

A: I think if I replayed my life 1,000 times, there is no way 12-year-old Bryan could have predicted what was to come in the next 10 years. Looking to the future, it also seems like a complete mystery. With that being said, I do know one thing for certain: In 10 years, I will have graduated from medical school and will be practicing medicine somewhere in West Virginia. I love to teach, so eventually, I hope to be at one of the medical school campuses teaching students.

Q: Like many students with an eye on medicine, you want to help people. What do you hop e to contribute?

A: In terms of my research, identifying a drug molecule that can suppress inflammation in a body will be a great way to combat respiratory diseases such as asthma, lung cancer or COPD which are all prominent health conditions in West Virginia. I would also like to continue doing research beyond my four years as an undergrad. 

Q: Got any state- o riented goals ?

A: I love pepperoni rolls! I am trying to find the best pepperoni rolls in West Virginia, so if anyone reading this has any recommendations, please let me know!

Written by Laura Roberts