LSU Ogden Honors, Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate accepted into physician scientist program
May 22, 2023
BATON ROUGE - Anne D'Armond didn't always know she wanted to be a physician-scientist. In fact, at nine years old, her sights were set on being a famous rockstar. However, when tragedy struck her community, D'Armond felt a pull to something greater.
She remembers the day her elementary school teacher announced that her son had passed away from Glioblastoma cancer. "I learned what death was before I learned long division," said D'Armond. She couldn't understand why a boy only two years her junior was taken from the world so suddenly. In the search for answers, she found science.
“ I wanted quantitative, definitive answers, and I found that in chemistry. It makes the world make so much more sense to me. ”
From then, D'Armond devoted herself to her newfound passion and graduated top of her class from Dominican High School. Shortly after she enrolled at LSU, she was given the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research in the laboratory of Professor Megan Macnaughtan, focusing on a thermal shift assay and studying chlamydial virulence proteins associated with the pathogenesis of chlamydia.
D'Armond graduated from LSU this May with College Honors with Bachelor of Science degrees in chemistry and biochemistry and fondly reflected on her last four years, especially while reminiscing about the obstacles she overcame.
D'Armond was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder after reportedly feeling intense pressure to be perfect. Despite her frequent panic attacks, she was in denial that anything was wrong. "It was slowly killing me, and I didn't realize it," D'Armond said. But her breaking point came after she received a C minus on an analytical chemistry test. She met with her professor to discuss the grade and opened up about her recent struggles. Her professor offered her kindness and support, showing D'Armond that she didn't have to be perfect to be a good scientist.
Once worried her disorder would define her, D'Armond now sees it as her superpower. "I don't like it when people tell me I can't do something. Especially as a woman in science," said D'Armond. "I think it's so important to talk about mental health, especially as someone in the medical field."
Her perseverance is exemplified during her college years when she didn't have the resources to replicate with a multichannel pipette, so she pipetted each individual well by hand. "96 well plates, to be exact," D'Armond laughed. "It's given me great pipetting skills."
It's not often a student chooses to pursue the rigorous task of earning a dual-doctoral degree, but for D'Armond, an MD/PhD is the perfect way to translate between the clinical and research world.
"For the normal patient population, it can be terrifying to go into this space and not have a compassionate doctor that can explain what is occurring on a molecular level," said D'Armond.
D'Armond explains how it takes a special kind of communicator to communicate with the specialist in her field and with individuals who have no idea what a cancer cell does. "I like that challenge," says D'Armond.
At Tulane, D'Armond will pursue an MD/PhD and focus her research on pediatric cancers - the area of study she has been most interested in since childhood - and hopes to one day work at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.