…This Past Quarter

Brandon, First Year PhD Student

Contrary to popular belief.. I am still alive 😀

Sadly this is my first post of the year, but I will quickly attempt to make up for lost time and readers.

So to get some formalities out of the way and to regain the readers that I may have lost.. I would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Valentine’s Day, and Happy (Fill in any holiday I may have missed here)!

This quarter has been… (searches brain for the correct word).. interesting.. Interesting because it was extremely fast paced, everlasting, busy, busy, and oh yeah did I mention busy? It started off with my teachers updating Canvas (our online class portal) with lectures and group projects during the Christmas break. Like every good student, I read the email updates, syllabus, and mentally prepared for the upcoming semester… But I could never have guessed exactly how fast everything would actually happen.

In January alone I had 3 projects and 1 exam, this trend continued into February, and March. Actually… March is quite an exception, since this time I only had 1 exam in addition to projects, daily quizzes for about two weeks, and Finals Week of course (*Insert seemingly ominous music*). Thankfully it all finally came to an end and last week (due to Spring Break *insert Hallelujah Chorus*).

Although the semester may have been difficult at times, I really thank God for leading me and guiding through it. I also would like to thank my professors and research mentors for challenging and creating so many opportunities for me to learn and demonstrate my newfound knowledge.

On an semi-serious note I also would like to thank the school for a week off from classes and serious studying (emphasis on serious.. meaning studying is still occurring). But seriously I am really grateful for this break, because I have time to somewhat rest my mind, prepare for the upcoming quarter (April 1st is right around the corner), actually write posts for the blog, clean my room and do laundry (just kidding) and to re-energize myself for the next semester…

Until Next Time…

Brandon Dixon

I will actually be posting more regularly now so stay tuned! And Favorite my page! Oh and Favorite the entire LLUSM Blog! You can also sign up to receive new posts from all of the bloggers. Check it out in the left column on the blog home page.

…Something Fun!

This past week I had another exam….

After countless mornings and night hours of studying, another four hour “marathon” test, It was OVER! And I could finally get some precious sleep and be void of dreams about DNA nucleotide synthesis or the highly regulated biochemistry pathways of gluconeogenesis (And yeah I actually do dream about those things.. And Yes! It is kind of scary sometimes).

Since the exam was over, naturally I opted for some post-exam therapy. So I re-arranged and maneuvered some studying hours around, and was able to go see an NBA basketball game! Although it was the Los Angeles Clippers (aka not the Los Angeles Lakers) it was still exciting and was a great game to attend, I really enjoyed myself!

Also since I purchased the tickets from the Loma Linda University Student Services, I was able to receive my ticket, a free Blake Griffin t-shirt, free Clippers hat, and priceless memories of enjoying a night off from studying, and spending times with friends!

Overall, I’d say that I was a pretty happy camper!


My First Time at the Staples Center!!!


Right Before We Got In Line To Enter!


We Just Received Our Free Clippers T-shirts and Hats!!!


The Announcement of the Starting Lineups and the Beginning of the Game!

Until Next time… Over and Out!



So this post may seem a little random but…

Councilor’s Student Pavilion is really amazing! I’m actually in it right now as I’m typing this and I just realized that its an awesome place!

The Student Pavilion has a great study atmosphere (with headphones of course!), that has really comfortable chairs or tables that are useful for studying. It is also usually quiet for the most part and has a change in scenery and pace from the absolute zero noise and ominous silence that is the library.

Also the Pavilion makes eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner very convenient. Where else can you have a great study session, receive a 10% student discount on all food items, and have free Internet? (I honestly don’t know of another place, but if you do, Please tell me!)

And did I mention the food O_o!

Amazing fruit! Curry Wednesdays! Breakfast Burritos! Made-to-order custom Burgers!

Councilors Pavilion has it all and is extremely convenient, hence it being one of my favorite places on campus, and the random topic of my of my post today!

Until Next Time!

V O_o v

Beginning of the End of the Beginning

I’ll start with the best part: Friday, I presented my thesis proposal––and passed! I’ve spent the rest of the weekend being ecstatic. Typically, the response from others follows a somewhat less enthusiastic motif. “Wow, that’s great…what does it mean? Do you start med school now?”

No, I’m not going to start med school anytime soon, but as far as the PhD goes, making it through the proposal process is significant. Getting a PhD is somewhat of an elaborate hazing ritual, in which pledges must prove to a council of five established researchers that they are worthy of joining their ranks. The thesis proposal is a particularly intense Harrowing, in which I must publicly present my intended doctoral work. I must also let the five scientists on my thesis committee that I know what I’m presenting and that I’m capable of completing the work. Passing means I’ve made it through the first level of graduate school, and am now a PhD Candidate. Now all that stands between me and the PhD is…a whole lot of research and writing.

For anyone that’s interested, my thesis (which I’m sure will come up again) explores the relationship between cholesterol regulation and Alzheimer’s disease. My presentation can even be viewed online. Of course, I’d be happy to answer any questions––what researcher doesn’t love the opportunity to talk about their work?

Since I’m MD/PhD, I have four years of med school after that, and we won’t go into the post-post-graduate years of residency. As my friend described it, I’m at the beginning of the end of the beginning: It’s the beginning of the final push toward my PhD, which is itself the beginning of my path through the combined degree program. Regardless, I’m allowing myself some satisfaction. I might even venture to say I’m around 25% complete, and that’s worth celebrating.

….the Marathon Test

“On your mark.. Get set… Go!”

Usually those are the thoughts that you have when you start a race. However, these were the thoughts that I had as I started to take my very first exam!

The teacher did warn us that the test would be pretty long and that we would have “a good period of time to complete it.”

But when he wrote “3 Hours Remaining”

I never imagined that the test would really be four hours long! But Yes! It was in fact four intense hours of critical thinking questions ranging from calculations, derivations, and essay style questions!

Even though the test seemed really long at first, once I was engulfed in answering the questions, time seemed to go by rather quickly. And before I knew it I was on the last question..

Looking back, it was quite an experience. And surprisingly there was a smile on my face at the end. “It’s over now… And I did my best” was what I remember thinking.

So there is another 3 or 4 weeks until the next marathon test. I know its weird, but I’m not looking at it with dread or despair. I am sort of looking forward to it. It just means that I’m getting closer and closer to achieving my goals… Oh and Thanksgiving Break of course!

Until next time…

See you later!