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Life at Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences PhD Student Groups

PhD Student Groups

Student groups at NYU School of Medicine’s Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences provide an opportunity for students to work with their peers outside of the lab and to get to know fellow students with similar interests. Joining a student group is also an excellent way to network.

Student Council

The Sackler Student Council is a group of students who get together once a month to plan social and academic events for the student body. Our goal is to get students out of the lab and into New York City for some fun seasonal events. We work hard to bring back favorite events and plan some new ones.

Members of Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences’ 2018–19 Student Council
PHOTO: The Sackler Student Council of 2018–19
[Front row, left to right: Victoria Osorio Vasquez and Rebecca Plessel] 
[Back row, left to right: Jorge Morales-Valencia, Sonali Narang, Joel Encarnacion-Rosado, Stephen Abini-Agbomson, and Benjamin Brissette]

Elected Student Council Members 2018–19

Victoria Osorio Vasquez

Rebecca Plessel
Vice President

Benjamin Brissette

Sonali Narang

Stephen Abini-Agbomson and Joel Encarnacion-Rosado
Co-chairs, Diversity and Inclusion

Jorge Morales-Valencia
Social Chair

Committee for the Respectful and Ethical Advancement of Trainees and Educators

The Committee for the Respectful and Ethical Advancement of Trainees and Educators works closely with leadership in human resources and the graduate and medical school administrations to communicate student ideas for improving and enriching the training experience. Through this partnership, we develop initiatives to enhance the training experience for our educational communities. We solicit student input on a regular basis and constantly look for ways to uplift and empower us all through better, more inclusive, policy and training.

Diversity Initiative

The Sackler Diversity Initiative seeks to be a safe and open space for discussion. We host social events and bring in speakers from groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We invite speakers to meet with students to discuss career paths and experiences. We also organize forums to address issues facing underrepresented groups more globally.

NYU Are Women in STEM

NYU Are Women in STEM (NYUrWiS) supports women interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields. Through our seminar series, mentorship program, and informal socials, we aspire to help women achieve their professional goals.

Sackler LGBTQ+

The goal of the Sackler LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) group is to facilitate networking and constructive interactions among graduate students to promote a healthy and supportive community.

We host events throughout the year, including meet and greets, happy hours, movie viewings, and small-group dinners. Our events aim to spark discussion and mentorship and foster appreciation of the rich culture of our larger community.

Special Interest Clubs

In addition to clubs hosted by Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, our students are encouraged to participate in other special interest groups hosted by NYU School of Medicine or NYU.

BioTech Club

The NYU School of Medicine’s BioTech Club is run by PhD students and postdocs. Our objective is to educate graduate students and postdoctoral fellows about how biomedical science applies to industry, business, law, and translational research.

Our vast array of events includes hosting industry speakers and organizing entrepreneurship panels, joint business events with the NYU Consulting Club, and company tours.

We co-organize events with the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, including the Bioventure speaker series and the NYU Hackathon. In 2015, we held a major biopharma conference at NYU with executives from Pfizer, Celmatix, Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Medidata Solutions, and Regeneron. The conference was organized with the biotech clubs of Columbia University, Weill Cornell Medical College, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Hunter College of the City of New York.

The club events are open to anyone. If you want to be added to our mailing list, email or visit the BioTech website.

Board Game Club

The Sackler Board Game Club meets every other week to play games and hang out after a long day in lab. We offer a variety of games from classics such as SCRABBLE and Settlers of Catan to more recent games including Dead of Winter and Castles of Mad King Ludwig. All are welcome. For additional information, email Alison Ehrlich at

Clear Direction

Clear Direction provides underrepresented minority high school students with invaluable exposure to the STEM fields through formal long-term mentorship from current PhD and MD/PhD students.

Clear Direction partners Sackler graduate students with teens from local high schools typically underrepresented in STEM fields. Faculty at these high schools nominate up to five 11th-grade students with demonstrated interest in STEM for a two-year commitment with Clear Direction. Once the students are nominated, a group of Clear Direction mentors, administrators, and advisory members selects a cohort for that year.

During Clear Direction’s pilot year, mentors were NYU graduate students. However, we are now collaborating with the New York City Minority Graduate Student Network to expand the mentoring cohort to neighboring institutions, including Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Albert Einstein College of Medicine Graduate School.

Graduate student mentors meet with their mentees at least once a month to help with school projects, help them prepare for the SAT, review college applications, and discuss career and personal development. Additionally, each student shadows his or her mentor in laboratory settings. Our hope is that these meaningful relationships inspire a more diverse and passionate group of students pursuing careers in STEM.

For more information, email the administration team at Clear Direction Mentoring at

Coding Club

Members of the Coding Club, also known as Sackler Data Wranglers, are students and postdocs interested in teaching and learning scientific coding for data analysis.

The club meets once a week during the summer and focuses on topic-specific computational skills to automate repetitive wet lab data crunching. We also cover bioinformatics topics. Our focus is primarily on R and Python programming languages.

This environment is great for beginners who would like to pick up some coding to make day-to-day analysis easier. The club meets next in the summer of 2017. To see our lessons this summer, check out the Coding Club website.

Consulting Club

The Consulting Club is a group of PhD students and postdocs interested in learning about careers in life science consulting. Our mission is to provide training and develop members’ skills for a career in management consulting, connect members with both alumni and external consultants, and assist consulting firms in recruiting NYU students and postdoctoral scholars.

We are based at NYU School of Medicine but accept members from the greater New York City graduate student community.

We provide a chance to network, practice for case-based interviews, and attend company recruiting events. We collaborate with other graduate consulting clubs in the Northeast to facilitate citywide events such as case competitions.

To stay connected, you can find us on LinkedIn or sign up for our listserv by emailing

Kick-starting Interest in Degrees in Science

The purpose of Kick-starting Interest in Degrees in Science (KIDS) is to expose young minds to science. Current PhD and MD/PhD candidates travel to a middle school in East Harlem in Manhattan several times a year to bring science to the classroom.

The group starts by introducing seventh-graders to the field of science by doing basic experiments. This hands-on science is continued with eighth-graders to help prepare them for standardized tests.

If you like working with kids and want to get some teaching experience, join the group. Emails with dates and times are sent out over the club listserv. To join the listserv or to get involved, email Chelsea Maniscalco at

Muslim Students Association (Ibn Sina)

Ibn Sina represents the cultural, professional, and spiritual life of the Muslim student body at NYU School of Medicine. The group promotes awareness about Islam and fosters a sense of community among the Muslim students, faculty, and staff. It also initiates interfaith events to help promote diverse religious identities.

Ibn Sina is affiliated with the Islamic Center at NYU. For more information, visit the Ibn Sina website or email

Neuroscience Outreach Group at NYU

Neuroscience Outreach Group at NYU (NOGN) coordinates outreach efforts and forms partnerships with organizations within NYU and throughout New York City. These partnerships, and the dedication of nearly 100 scientist volunteers, have allowed NOGN to have a large impact.

Classroom visits, Brain Awareness Week programs, and new initiatives like Brains and Brews provide many opportunities to get involved. Learn more at the NOGN website or contact Heather McKellar at to sign up for our volunteer list.

NeuWrite Downtown

NeuWrite integrates the scientific and science communication communities through events, talks, and a monthly workshop where members create compelling science journalism and art.

NeuWrite is looking for students or postdocs who are willing to embrace aspects of organization and leadership, as well as those who would like to participate in workshops as writers and communicators. Contact Heather McKellar at for additional information.

NYU Rugby Club

No experience is required to join the men’s rugby club. Practices take place on Randall’s Island from 7:00PM to 9:00PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Schedule changes and updates are listed on the NYU Rugby Club website and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information or to sign up, email or

Outdoor Club

NYU’s Outdoor Club organizes hiking day trips in the Catskill mountains, the Hudson Valley region, and other areas once or twice a month during the summer, early fall, and spring. It also organizes camping trips and day trips. For more information, contact Vinayak Rayannavar at

Raíces (Latin American Student Association)

Through social and educational events, Raíces hopes to celebrate the Latino community throughout our campus by promoting an inclusive environment. While Latin American cultures are historically complex and unique, we share similar roots, and our name honors our diverse Raíces. We seek to provide a space to explore the intersectional identities and individuality of our members and celebrate our personal journeys as members of the Latino community. In the spirit of making you feel en casa, students should feel free to speak the language they prefer, while promoting a respectful and inclusive environment. In our home, everybody is welcome.

For more information, email Naomi Lopez-Caraballo at

Students Advocating for Science, Education, and Medicine

Students Advocating for Science, Education, and Medicine is a coalition of PhD, MD, and MD/PhD students at NYU School of Medicine dedicated to enhancing the educational experience by coordinating teach-ins and direct actions to promote justice in science, education, and healthcare. Recently, we’ve organized events focused on intersectional feminism, trans rights, climate change, gun safety reform, the opioid crisis, sanctuary cities, financial literacy, and how to be an advocate in academia and medicine.

We're passionate about our horizontal (non-hierarchical) structure, in which we are developing an active and inclusive community motivated to organize for positive change in our laboratories, classrooms, clinics, diverse communities, country, and the world at large. We believe that science, medicine, politics, justice, and education should go hand in hand to mutually empower and reinforce one another.


The Science and Faith Club, or SCI+FAI Club, is a community of Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences students who are Christian. The club is part of the Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) at NYU. The group explores the nuances of integrating faith into professional life.

The club meets regularly for Bible study and to discuss books written by distinguished scientists who are Christian or writings that are related to science and faith. It hosts casual seminars and Socratic happy hours to encourage conversation about the questions surrounding science, faith, philosophy, and ethics.

The club supports the emotional wellbeing of graduate students by encouraging open dialog about the struggles facing graduate students. Graduate students, postdocs, and faculty are welcome.

For more information, contact José Montoyo-Rosario at or Krystal Herline at You can also visit the Graduate and Faculty Ministries website.

Writing Meet–Up

Writing Meet-Up is for those of you who are in the process of writing a paper, grant, dissertation or anything else. The group is meant to provide a dedicated time and place to quietly write with your peers. We hope to foster a supportive environment that will decrease procrastination and boost morale. For information, please contact Alla Peselis at