GradImpact: Serving Others, Serving Science

    Alisha J. House has always been driven by a spirit of service. Before enrolling as a graduate student at Cleveland State University, House served in the United States Navy from 2007 until 2011. In the Navy she served as a nuclear reactor operator and technician before moving up to become a petty officer. These dual passions for service and science would motivate House to return to graduate school after her naval service.


    Since she arrived at Cleveland State University in 2012 as a post-baccalaureate student in the College of Sciences and Health Professions, House has continued her service by participating in organizations meant to empower veterans as well as women in science. House founded the CSU chapter of the Global Medical Brigades in 2013. The organization’s mission is to “resolve global health and economic disparities by empowering student volunteers, local professionals, and community members in a collaborative holistic approach to sustainable development in under resourced regions.” To that end, House oversaw and participated in two medical mission trips to Nicaragua (2013) and Panama (2014). While at CSU, she has also been active in two other organizations – the Graduate Student Interdisciplinary Research Club and the Scientista Foundation – which aim to improve research opportunities as CSU, particularly for women.


    House’s growth as a volunteer has been matched by her growth as a student and researcher. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Clinical and Bioanalytical Chemistry at CSU. Her research “involves developing differentiation methods for induced pluripotent stem-cell derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs), and the subsequent biochemical characterization of them using mass spectrometry.” This research is part of a larger project helmed by her advisor, Yana Sandlers, in the field of metabolomics and aims to better understand Barth’s Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which leads to slow and diminished development in men. The hope is that this research will provide a better understanding of Barth’s Syndrome and guide the development of new treatments.


    House’s combination of curiosity and discipline has helped her excel as a graduate student. She was always interested in designing experiments and thinking about how to better integrate research findings with clinical applications. Success did not always come easily to House, however, and that’s when her military background proved particularly valuable.  “The level of determination and perseverance that I have needed to use to make it this far could only have been instilled by the United States military,” she said. “To be honest, there were times when I felt like I wasn't going to make it all the way, and that I would end up leaving school with a master's degree instead of a PhD.” Still, she persevered and will be graduating with her doctorate next spring.


    After finishing her degree, House hopes to continue to serve patients by bridging the gap between research and clinical application of stem cells. This career path perfectly fits her two passions for serving others and scientific research and has motivated her to become a more successful graduate student. To learn more about Alisha and her work, visit the Cleveland State University website.


    Visit the GradImpact Feature Gallery to learn more about the amazing, innovative research being done by graduate students and alumni across the world.


    Photo Credit: Cleveland State University




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