MSMS Program Prepares Shaw Powell for Research Career

In elementary school, Shaw Powell’s favorite subjects were art, physical education, and science, and in that order. Interestingly, the Northern Kentucky native’s career has followed this same trajectory.

First, he received his bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University in art education. Then he joined the Army National Guard and served for seven years. Lastly, in the spring of 2021, he graduated with a Master of Science in Medical Sciences (MSMS) to pursue a research career.

The MSMS is a broad, interdisciplinary degree program at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine that draws on the academic and research expertise of the college’s basic science departments. The degree may be used by students seeking career enhancement in fields such as biomedical research, the pharmaceutical industry, or the health science professions; by students seeking credentials in biomedical sciences to apply for medical school or other health sciences professional programs; or by students seeking to enhance their knowledge base prior to choosing a career direction.

Powell fell into the first category, hoping to follow a research career that would allow for career stability, a team environment, and the ability to make discoveries in the field of molecular biology. Through the MSMS program and his correlating position a part-time lab technician, Powell learned of the College of Medicine’s mission to train physicians and scientists in Kentucky for Kentucky, which enhanced his interest in science.

Now a graduate of the MSMS program, Powell is a research associate with the UK College of Medicine Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. He works in the laboratory of Jessi Blackburn, PhD, where he is conducting a drug screen and studying hematopoietic stem cells and leukemia, a cancer that is common in Kentucky.

No matter how different his career interests have been over time – from earning an art degree to keeping up with the physical demands of the military, and currently as a scientist with a master’s degree in medical sciences – Powell has always maintained an interest in being part of a collaborative, well-rounded team. He feels that sense of teamwork in his current role at UK.