Profile NANCY URIZAR
This section profiles former MORE participants who have excelled in their fields. We hope that the profiles will give students an idea of the types of careers available with science degrees and the paths others have taken to achieve those careers.A Bright Future for an Aspiring Scientist
“I became interested in science after taking
a high school biology class,” said Nancy
Urizar, a graduate student at Baylor
College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
“The instructor’s enthusiasm for science
led me to value both scientists and
scientific discovery,” she added.
Urizar recalls seeing the inside of a lab
for the first time on a high school field
trip to Baylor. This experience
helped inspire her to
pursue a scientific career
and later prompted her to
choose Baylor for graduate school.
Encouraged by her parents to stay in
the Houston area, Urizar received her
undergraduate education at the University
of Houston on a full scholarship. She got
hands-on laboratory experience working
part-time as a laboratory assistant at
Urizar earned a bachelor’s degree in
biochemistry, but she knew that she
wanted to further her education. After
taking a year off from school, she applied
to several graduate schools, including
Baylor. Although she was accepted into
other schools, Urizar did not get into
Baylor, which was her top choice.
Determined to go there, she continued
working as a lab assistant at Baylor and
then reapplied for admission. She was
accepted the following year.
In addition to her strong will and
determination, Urizar attributes much of
her success to the MBRS program, which
provided her with financial assistance and
offered her the chance to go to meetings
such as the Gordon Research Conference
on Hormone Action, which she attended
during her first year of graduate school.
“The Gordon Conference gave me the
opportunity to meet many well-known
scientists,” Urizar said. “Seeing their excellent
research motivated me to work even
harder,” she added.
Urizar also attributes her success to
having a good mentor, Dr. David D.
Moore. She currently works in his lab in
the department of molecular and cellular
biology, studying the role that FXR, a type
of protein called a nuclear hormone
receptor, plays in maintaining the balance
of lipids in the body, especially cholesterol
levels. Urizar was the first author on a
paper in Science identifying a natural
product that lowers cholesterol levels in an
animal model (see the full citation in the
Selected Publications section). This work
received international attention.
Urizar credits Moore with helping her
to become an independent researcher.
“When I go to Dr. Moore for help, he
doesn’t simply tell me what to do. Instead
he and I discuss ways to solve the problem,”
Urizar advises students entering
graduate school to seek assistance from
advisors, instructors, postdocs, and other
“If you reach a point where something
is not working after more than three or
four tries, go and get help from an expert
in that technique,” Urizar said.
Although uncertain of the direction
she wants to take in the future, Urizar
knows she wants a career in science.
“I just have to find the career that’s
perfect for me,” she said.
If you know an outstanding former
MARC, MBRS, or Bridges participant who
has excelled professionally and you would
like to nominate that person as a future
Update profile subject, please let us know.
Your suggestions are always welcome.
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