This is one of many spotlights about Badin graduates and their successes in life.
Jennifer Smith Ko ’97 graduated from Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine (NEOUCOM) with a BS in Natural Science and a MD. She has her PhD in Immunology from Case Western University. Dr. Ko is an Associate Professor of Pathology at the Cleveland Clinic and Medical Director of the Cleveland Clinic Central Biorepository. Last spring she was asked a few questions from one of the Badin science students, as they collected information from Badin grads who became doctors. She is married with three children and lives in the Cleveland area..
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Alumni Spotlight on: JENNIFER SMITH Ko '97
Did you always want to be a doctor? Not necessarily. First wanted to be an astronaut. Then a biomedical engineer. Then an MD. I am a physician scientist heavily involved in translational research. This fulfills my creative and investigative sides that first lead me to consider the other careers that I did.
What high school courses prepared you most for your career? I would say that most of my science was learned beyond high school. I think the writing skills I learned (mostly from Mrs. Vido) helped me in my career because I write manuscripts and talks now, and being able to communicate effectively is always helpful. I think being involved in classes, sports, extra-curriculars, and social events helped prepare me for my career the most, because I continue to balance many things. This is especially true for women in medicine and other professional careers.
What is your favorite part of what you do? In my job, I am constantly engaged in solving problems and I am constantly in awe of biology and medicine. The engagement ranges from using my eyes and other sources of scientific evidence to diagnose diseases, to creating workflow processes that will best facilitate collection of samples for research, to designing studies to answer challenging scientific questions. I am in awe at the diseases I am able to see and touch, which are very rare or complicated (given my location at Cleveland Clinic), and at the work I see the passionate people around me do – the complicated surgeries, diagnoses, treatments and discoveries.
What is your greatest challenge in your career? Finding the time to do it all.
Please describe some of your typical day. I spend my days looking at H&E stained glass slides under the microscope and rendering a diagnosis for patients, teaching residents and fellows, reading and writing scientific publications, giving lectures, going to tumor boards, sitting on committees, interpreting data and designing experiments, and managing projects to improve the things I am passionate about at work.
What would you like your legacy to be as a doctor? Two-fold: bridging medicine, pathology and science to help discover disease mechanisms and treatments; and, making the right diagnosis in hard cases where someone else might not of, so that the patient gets the right treatment and the best outcome.
What technology do you use? Internet of course, microscopes, flow cytometry, polymerase chain reaction, fluorescence in-situ hybridization, and laser capture microdissection to name a few. With precision/personalized medicine, there is a huge shortage of bioinformaticists who can translate all the DNA and RNA data that we can now generate. This would be a great career (and computer programming in general) that will be needed in the future as well.