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Iara Backes
Student Director
Dartmouth MPUS Fellowship
MD-PhD Candidate, PY 2
Thayer School of Engineering
Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

Hailing from the Andes but most recently from sunny Florida, where I got my Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Florida. My introduction to science began in an organic chemistry synthesis lab, then to physiology, and finally to the world of immunology and virology. I’ve always been a host-pathogen interactions fangirl and I’m excited to delve into HSV’s. My research interests include herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) host-pathogen interactions. I am particularly interested in the humoral response and specific antibody characteristics against HSV-1. In addition, I am currently investigating maternal antibody protection during primary neonatal HSV-1 infection.
New Hampshire has, hands down, the best summers I have ever experienced. You’ll often find me in the river, paddling to my heart’s desire on a kayak.

Adelaide Tousley
Student Director
MD-PhD Candidate, PY1
Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

After childhood adventures as a military brat (9 hometowns and counting), I graduated from Middlebury College in 2013, where I majored in Neuroscience, and minored in Global Health/European History. I first got into research during a summer program at Middlebury; I worked on a project the focused on assessing the effects of neurosteroid on the acrobatic ability of intoxicated mice. From there I spent a summer at the NIH learning biochemical techniques while contributing to a project focused on understanding the role of endocannabinoid signaling in the development of insulin resistance in mice. After college I spent three years in Boston at MGH’s Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease running a mouse colony and helping to develop and characterize an human induced pluripotent stem cell based neuronal model of Huntington’s disease. At Dartmouth, I’m working with Dr. Hermes Yeh to explore the effects of neonatal alcohol exposure on neural circuit formation, and how this might contribute to future risk for neurological diseases/disorders. My favorite Upper Valley activities include searching for the best trails to run/hike with my puppy and the best post run snacks.

Alex Thorngren, MS, EdD
Faculty Director
Dartmouth MPUS Fellowship

MD-PhD Operations Director
Instructor, Department of Medicine
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

For nearly 25 years, my work at Dartmouth has been a rewarding mixture of education, public health, and health care leadership. Advising, teaching, overseeing programs, and generally working with medical and graduate students at Dartmouth is built upon my educational background. My first steps toward a career in education began while earning my bachelor’s degree from Norwich University. Building on that foundation, I completed my M.S. in Evaluative Clinical Sciences/Health Care Leadership from Dartmouth College; and lastly, completed my Ed.D. in Education Leadership and Policy at the University of Vermont in 2017.

The breadth of my professional practices at Dartmouth continues to include teaching and mentoring a variety of students including MD-PhD and other graduate programs. Additionally, I have directed several health careers-oriented pipeline programs including, The Health Careers Institute at Dartmouth (HCID), and a small HHMI-funded public health fellowship program, as well as having managed the New Hampshire Public Health Training Center for a few years through the NH Area Health Education Center (AHEC).

Presently, one of the great joys of administering the MD-PhD Program at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth is working alongside the MPUS student directors and helping elevate undergraduate students each summer as they take another career step towards academic and clinical excellence.