Collage of Stanford Biosicences students using pipettes for research

Student Profile: Luke Yancy Jr.

Luke Yancy Jr.
  • Hometown: Southfield, Mich.
  • Undergraduate: BS, Morehouse College
  • Home Program: Biomedical Informatics
  • Thesis Lab: Dr. Atul Butte

Please describe your research area and interest.

My research interests lie in investigating diseases that disproportionately affect minority populations. More specifically, my work aims to increase the power to detect genetic variants predictive of disease by combining heterogenous genomic data. Currently, I am investigating pulmonary arterial hypertension, a rare and fatal disease with a median survival of approximately four years for those afflicted. However, these methods will be generalized and applied to other diseases.

Why did you decide to attend Stanford?

I decided to attend after finishing a summer as a Stanford Summer Research Program student in 2009. Even after attending another summer research program in 2010, Stanford was still an obvious choice for me.

What do you like best about graduate school at Stanford?

Stanford has a very large support system for students. Your advisor, your student services officers, the Office of Graduate Education & Biosciences Diversity, other professors from your Home Program—each of these groups of people provide a unique support system that, when combined, make you feel right at home on campus. The resources at Stanford are also amazing. Any project you think of, there is someone on campus to help you accomplish it. If you need subjects for some study you are performing, you have one of the best hospitals in the nation within walking distance from your lab.

Who are your sources of support at Stanford?

I have found that the people in my lab are a great support for me. We often talk about research and other issues every day. Outside of my lab, the Office of Graduate Education & Biosciences Diversity provides great support for me. The entire office has supported me since I was an SSRP student, and they continue to do so in my graduate training. I find myself coming to "vent" in their offices quite often, and I've never encountered a closed door when I need to come and chat.

What activities are you involved in outside of research?

I am currently the Vice President of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) at Stanford; mentor in the BGSA/Black Student Union (BSU) Mentoring program; External Liaison for Biomedical Association for the Interest of Minority Students (BioAIMS); and a dancer, choreographer, musician, producer, and director. I also served as a Program Assistant for the Stanford Summer Research Program (SSRP) for the past two summers.

How do you bring diversity to Stanford Biosciences?

I am an African American. I am a dancer (17 years of formal training). I am a musician (10-plus years of formal training). I am a lover of fashion and style. I am a strong believer in Christianity. All in all... I am most things that are NOT associated with a research scientist. In addition to the aforementioned attributes, I also attended a Historically Black College (Morehouse). As I have interacted with many different African Americans from across the country, I have a unique insight into the Black community and hope to share that with the Stanford community.

What is your dream job/long-term career goals?

Immediately after graduation, I would like to enter industry for a while and continue to investigate diseases disproportionately affecting minority populations. Later in life, I would like to return to Morehouse and help to revamp the bioinformatics program there.

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