William Cao_resizedAs you wander the halls of the Edward and Alice Long Memorial Hall at the School, you will notice some posters with detailed graphics of stem cells and research data that are drawn to perfection. These posters are the work of William Cao ‘14.

Cao attended University of California, Santa Barbara where he earned his bachelor of science in pharmacology. He is currently in his fourth year in the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Sciences Graduate Program with an emphasis in Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology and Toxicology.

“I was inspired to study pharmacology in high school after I read about how a drug worked. It changed the way I thought about my mind and body. Learning about a mechanism or signaling pathway is really satisfying for me,” said Cao.

His research interest in stem cells was the deciding factor for coming to Pacific. After meeting Dr. Robert Halliwell, Professor Pharmacology and Physiology, and learning about the opportunity to work with stem cells and study the electrical properties of cells and tissues, he knew he had to come here. Dr. Halliwell is also Cao’s faculty advisor. Cao considers Dr. Halliwell as a mentor saying “he is very important in guiding and supporting me.”

In July 2012, Cao received the Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association Travel Award which funded his trip to London where he attended the British Neuroscience Association 2013 Festival of Neuroscience in April. At the meeting he presented his poster titled “Predictive value of human stem cells for developmental neurotoxicity studies.” “Not only was I allowed to present my work there, it contributed to an invaluable educational experience. Additionally, I was able to meet with other researchers who helped me to design the experiments that I am currently conducting,” said Cao.

“This type of support from the program is critical to the academic success of all graduate students,” he added.

Interestingly, for Cao, cell culture is his morning meditation, he sees neurite outgrowths when he looks at deciduous trees in the winter, and finds the autoclave (an incinerator that is used to dispose of bio hazardous paraphernalia) smell oddly comforting. After completing the program, Cao hopes to obtain a post-doctoral position to gain more experience and work on publishing more of his research.


By Dua Her '09
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