Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences


Sam Heitz


Hometown: Pomona, CA

Undergraduate Institution: University of Redlands

Thesis Mentor: Jonathan M. Backer, M.D. 

Department: Molecular Pharmacology


Description of Research

My research focuses on characterizing the binding interface of PI3Kβ and the small GTPase Rab5. This interaction has been shown to be important for autophagy, macropinocytosis and metastasis. Defining the binding interface will allow us to develop a high-throughput assay to selectively screen inhibitors of Rab5-PI3Kβ binding.


PI3-kinase cell signaling, PI3-kinase binding interface 

Why Einstein

The one thing that really stood out to me about Einstein, and ultimately why I chose it, was the sense of community and support that was evident from talking to the graduate students. I really liked the fact that the atmosphere of Einstein encourages you to be a person as well as a scientist with many opportunities to make a life for yourself, especially for those moving from far away like me. Along with the social community at Einstein, there is a very strong collaborative scientific community where sharing reagents and ideas is encouraged and can often happen at one of our many happy hour/networking events.

Advice for Prospective Students

My advice to prospective students is to not get too focused on specific PIs when choosing a graduate school because they may not have space in their lab, they could have a difficult mentoring style despite doing awesome research, etc. Instead look at the overall quality of work, the happiness of the graduate students and career paths of past students.

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