Meet Amgen Scholar Christopher Divsalar

Nov 24, 2014 12:45 PM ET

Christopher Divsalar
San Francisco, CA

“I’ve received a taste of what it is like to be a ‘real life scientist’ and find it extremely exciting, challenging, and personally rewarding.”

Host University: MIT
Home University: University of California, Berkeley
Amgen Scholar Year: 2014
Major: Bioengineering
Expected Graduation: Fall 2014

Journey to Science

At just 19 years old, Chris Divsalar took a big step from professional soccer clubs to the research bench, and has never looked back.

Chris moved from the U.S. to Mexico by himself at age 14, to try out for professional soccer leagues. After spending five years as a professional athlete, he made a decision to change his career path and moved back to the U.S. Not wanting to abandon soccer completely, Chris enrolled in community college where he continued to play for a few years prior to transferring to UC Berkeley. It’s there where he discovered a passion for science, including biomedical devices and bio-molecular detection technologies.

Academic and Professional Ambitions

Why did you apply to the Amgen Scholars Program?

“The Amgen Scholars Program was very appealing to me because it has a very good reputation at UC Berkeley. Not only did it offer me the chance to do quality scientific research at MIT, one of the top research institutions in the world, and take me one step closer to reaching my academic goals, but it also offered me this unique opportunity to get more involved in the biotechnology space through one of the world’s largest biotech companies. I was also very interested in the prospect of creating professional contacts and networks that I can utilize during and after higher education. I always knew that I wanted to do science, but I also knew that I wanted to work in industry. The Amgen Scholars Program was exactly what I was looking for.”

What did you work on in the lab?

“At MIT, my research was focused on studying changes that may occur in deformability (the ability to undergo drastic physical changes) of human red blood cells as a consequence of their exposure to various small molecule drugs. A decrease in deformability can either be a biomarker or direct cause of various disease states. My intuition is that by understanding the biomechanical functions that underlie many biological processes, we can develop new paradigms to treat diseases such as cancer, advance our abilities to engineer new tissue, or improve stem cell differentiation.”

What’s the larger significance of your Amgen Scholars research? What’s your ultimate career goal?

“My ultimate professional vision is to become an executive scientist in industry and lead research teams to discover, develop and optimize life-saving treatments and technologies to help fight some of the world’s most difficult diseases or help solve major complex problems that will benefit our society. After touring the Amgen headquarters in Thousand Oaks and listening to the type of projects/problems that these leading scientists are tackling, I feel extremely motivated.”

What’s been the most rewarding part of your experience?

“During my time researching at MIT, I felt that I made lifelong friends and colleagues. I’ve received a taste of what it is like to be a ‘real life scientist’ and find it extremely exciting, challenging, and personally rewarding – these are all things I love in life, so I am now 100% sure that I want my life journey to revolve around science. It’s truly refined the vision I have of myself and how I view the world.”


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