‘I WAS FORTUNATE TO JOIN A GREAT RESEARCH GROUP’: A 2021 CHEMISTRY ALUMNUS REFLECTS ON HIS PH.D.

January 3, 2022

Marek_Wlodarczyk_gc_news_story_469px_241px (1) headshot
Marek Wlodarczyk (Credit: Alex Irklievski)

In December, a few months after completing his Ph.D., Marek Wlodarczyk (Ph.D. ’21, Chemistry) was back at the Graduate Center to help the Ph.D. Program in Chemistry welcome students who started the program in the fall of 2020 and 2021, during the pandemic. He took time to fill us in on his Ph.D. journey and share his tips for students who are beginning theirs.  

The Graduate Center: How does it feel to have earned a Ph.D., and how do you think it will impact your career?

Wlodarczyk: Completing Ph.D. is a big accomplishment on both personal and professional levels. It feels good see the fruits of several years of research. I can already see that the Ph.D. opens the doors that previously were shut. I’m looking forward to seeing what is out there waiting for me. 

GC: Your research with your faculty adviser, Professor Aneta Mieszawska, focused on nanoparticle drug delivery systems for ovarian cancer treatment. Can you describe what that means in layman’s terms? 

Wlodarczyk: Research in Professor Mieszawska’s laboratory focuses on nanoparticle drug delivery systems for cancer therapy. In other words, we synthesize small particle-like molecules with 100 nanometer (10-9 meter) diameter to deliver chemotherapeutics to the tumor side. Traditional chemotherapy causes severe side effects since chemotherapeutic drugs do not differentiate between healthy and tumor cells. What we are trying to accomplish is to hide those otherwise toxic molecules within polymeric nanoparticles and deliver them to the tumor side, where they release the drug. We exploit the fact that nanoparticles have an ability to penetrate the vascular system around tumor cells. The overall goal is to increase the concentration of the medicine in tumors so that stronger therapeutic response with lower systemic toxicity (side effects) could be observed.

GC: What advice do you wish you could have given yourself at the start of your Ph.D. journey?

Wlodarczyk: I was fortunate to join a great research group. I was also involved in setting up our new laboratory so doing my Ph.D. research and teaching at Brooklyn College felt like being at home. Therefore, it is hard for me to think about something I should have done differently at the beginning of my journey. I can only wish for others to be as lucky as I was.  

GC: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Wlodarczyk: I would like to thank all Graduate Center, CUNY and especially the Brooklyn College community for allowing me to pursue my dreams and making me feel at home. 

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing