Neil Pfister, MD, PhD is an intern in Emory’s J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency Program. Neil grew up in Gwinnett County, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia (UGA) for his undergraduate degree, where he received a dual degree in biochemistry/molecular biology and genetics, and he performed laboratory research on the CRISPR-Cas system (CRISPR-Cas is now widely used in genome editing and is being investigated in the treatment of various human diseases). At UGA, Neil was First Honor Graduate (co-valedictorian). After completing his undergraduate degree, he enrolled in the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons Medical Scientist Training Program in New York. At Columbia, he cultivated a deeper interest in cancer biology while studying the p53 protein (“the guardian of the genome”) during his PhD. In addition, he discovered how mutant forms of p53 directly incite malignancy in tumor cells by subverting normal gene expression via dysregulation of chromatin-modifying machinery, which is a discovery applicable to all forms of cancer. After completing his MD/PhD, he matched into the radiation oncology residency program at Emory University, which incorporates an intern year in medicine.
Neil decided to attend Emory for his residency for a number of reasons. In college, he shadowed radiation oncologists at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, which was the first NCI-designated cancer center to have a radiation oncologist as its director. During his final year of medical school, Neil rotated in the Radiation Oncology department at Winship. “The Radiation Oncology program at Emory is among the best programs in the country for clinical training, clinical research, and translational research,” he said.
“I have had such a rewarding time at Grady, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and the Atlanta VA Medical Center, specifically because I am surrounded by so many wonderfully inquisitive and good-natured residents and faculty,” he said. He looks forward to starting radiation oncology training in July of 2017. He plans to pursue the research pathway in preparation to becoming a bench-to-bedside physician-scientist.
Neil’s wife, Cristina, works in the surgical transplant intensive care unit at Emory University Hospital. They recently bought a home in Lawrenceville and welcomed their first child, Luke, in December of 2016. They have enjoyed traveling to Romania (where Cristina was born), Greece, Italy, France, London, Ireland, and Spain. They regularly attend a Romanian-speaking church, and Neil is learning to speak Romanian. Neil and his wife are both excited to work at Emory, and they hope to be involved in the Emory community for many years to come.
- VIDEO: A Day in the Life of an Emory Internal Medicine Resident
- VIDEO: Residency training at Emory University Hospital
- VIDEO: Residency training at Emory University Hospital Midtown
- VIDEO: Residency training at Grady Memorial Hospital
- VIDEO: Residency training at the Atlanta VA Medical Center
- VIDEO: Living in Atlanta
More about Emory University Department of Medicine’s residency program
Emory’s J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency Program offers several residency training pathways, including: