Q&A with a CHOP Researcher: Bayo Bello

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Bayo Bello CHOP’s Research Institute Summer Scholars Program (CRISSP) is a formal, competitive internship designed to provide undergraduate students with theoretical knowledge, practical training in academic research, and critical exposure to pediatric-focused career trajectories under the direct mentorship of CHOP faculty. Full-time immersion in a lab or research group allows interns to experience science and discovery firsthand. The program runs for 10 weeks and scholars receive a stipend and housing. In addition to the research experience, scholars receive professional development and formal training in academic research.

We connected with Bayo Bello, BS, a former CRISSP Scholar who has been working as a genetic counseling assistant in the Division of Neurology since 2017.

How has your time at CHOP, both as a CRISSP program participant and as a genetic counselor assistant, impacted your career trajectory?

From a young age, I have always aspired for a career in medicine. In fact, it prompted my sojourn to the United States. However, joining CHOP as a CRISSP scholar in the summer of 2014 introduced me into the world of biochemical research. Prior to CRISSP, my previous research experiences were isolated in that they were mainly lab-based. But through CRISSP, I was able to conduct research while visiting the clinic to see actual patients suffering from disorders I worked on. This part provided quality clinical exposure, but more importantly, it allowed me to see those who could potentially benefit from the research I conducted.

Overall, it was a humbling experience. I joined CRISSP as a young student looking to gain research experience, but left as a budding scientist with an increased desire to pursue medicine. My time at CRISSP provided the foundation for my work as a research scientist at the University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program and as a genetic counseling assistant (GCA) at CHOP. Being a GCA gave me an insight into what happens before a patient sees the doctor and afterward. It allowed for patient interactions as well as the opportunity to learn from the various providers in the division. My time at CHOP, both as a CRISSP scholar and a GCA, did not only help develop my scientific and clinical skills, but it also helped me think how I could shape my future career as a physician.

What are some of the things that you appreciate most about the culture at CHOP?

The diversity of CHOP’s community is one of the things I appreciate the most about being here. Working here has allowed me to meet and learn from people from different backgrounds. Additionally, the culture at CHOP fosters an atmosphere of community, leadership, and overall wellness. Senior staff members and coworkers are cordial and supportive, and as a result I feel quite at home at CHOP.

How do you describe diversity and inclusion at CHOP?

I would describe diversity and inclusion at CHOP as a significant part of the organization. CHOP employees reflect this as they are recruited from a diverse pool of candidates. CHOP also understands that everyone has their unique identity that influences how they work most productively and creates an environment that gets the best out of them. Working here, I can testify that I have been able to fulfill my potential because I feel valued and respected as an integral member of the team.

What advice would you give current students interested in medical careers?

I would advise that they remain humble while working hard toward their goals. The journey may seem long and tough, but rest is sweet after labor. I would also encourage that they form positive relationships with their mentors and develop meaningful experiences through clinical shadowing, medical research, and community service.

An update from Bayo: He recently earned a full tuition scholarship for medical school and credits CRISSP for preparing him and helping set him apart from other candidates! Congratulations Bayo, and best of luck!