Torbati joined Koronyo-Hamaoui's lab in September 2014.
"Dr. Koronyo-Hamaoui has been the best mentor, training me from the start and helping me build a solid research foundation," Torbati said.
The admiration is mutual. Koronyo-Hamaoui said Torbati "has a bench brain—she's intellectual, detail-oriented and has strong technical skills. She's also a star speaker. Tania is able to articulate our research better than I can."
Torbati's pre-internship self would have found that hard to believe.
"I've always been anxious about public speaking," said Torbati. Determined to conquer her fear, Torbati decided to participate in Cedars-Sinai's first Research Internship Poster Day in August 2015. Mission accomplished; not only was she was one of the event's three winners, but she also gave a winning presentation at the 2017 poster day competition.
Her winning ways continued. Torbati took first place for her research presentations on Alzheimer's disease at the 2018 and 2019 Annual American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians of California Convention and the 2019 Western American Federation for Medical Research Conference. The Koronyo-Hamaoui lab's studies examined an immunomodulatory drug that demonstrated potential for preserving cognitive function in murine models of Alzheimer's, and a newly discovered cytokine (small proteins that are important in cell signaling) that was shown to significantly hinder the immunological response to Alzheimer's pathology.
In June 2019, Torbati completed her second year of medical school at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California, where she attends the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific.
During her medical school orientation week in 2017, a professor commented on the incoming class's impressive credentials during his welcoming remarks. He singled out Torbati and praised her award-winning research.
"Ever since, a lot of my classmates know me as the research girl, and I'm the go-to person whenever they have a research question. I feel very fortunate and honored," said Torbati, who has contributed to five manuscripts and over 25 abstracts while interning in the Koronyo-Hamaoui lab.
Torbati has spent the last several months further training in the Koronyo-Hamaoui lab and helping to prepare several manuscripts for submission to journals, while also interning at the Doheny Eye Institute in Los Angeles. "The research I've participated in is really important to me, so I wanted to complete these projects before starting rotations," Torbati explained.
Torbati plans to stay involved in research throughout her medical training and career. "I truly love research. I've had such a positive experience that research has become a central part of who I am."
For more information about Cedars-Sinai's research education opportunities, visit the Research Internship Program.