Alumni Profile: Samuel Sondalle ’11

Sam SondalleSamuel Sondalle ’11 credits Ripon College for his success as he progresses through graduate school. He currently is in his third year in the M.D./Ph.D. program at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Sondalle majored in biology and chemistry at Ripon. During the summer of 2009, after his sophomore year at Ripon, he held an internship in the department of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

During that summer, he worked on a project that would become the subject of his thesis for his major in chemistry. He is a co-author of a paper published online in August and set for print publication in the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry in November.

“Chemical Derivatization of Peptide Carboxyl Groups for Highly Efficient Electron Transfer Dissociation” addresses mass spectrometry technology which is useful for identifying proteins. “Proteins have all sorts of functions in biological organisms from structure, catalyzing reactions, signaling and much more,” Sondalle says. “Genetic diseases often are caused by mutations in proteins, changing how they function. Therefore, it’s crucial to be able to identify their sequence of amino acids.”

Other authors who contributed to the paper include Dr. Brian Frey ’91, who served as Sondalle’s mentor during the summer in Madison.

“Because of a connection with a Ripon alumnus through the chemistry department, my contribution to this paper was made possible,” Sondalle says.

An earlier published paper also was made possible through a Ripon connection. Sondalle is a co-author of an article written from his work at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute during the summer of 2010. He learned about the program through Shannon McKinney-Freeman ’98, who was working in a post-doctoral position in a Harvard lab at the time. That paper was published in the journal Nature.

“After completing my first two years of medical school and taking my Step I boards in May 2013, I began working full time on my Ph.D. in the department of genetics at Yale,” Sondalle says. “I work in the laboratory of Susan J. Baserga, M.D., Ph.D. Our lab studies how the ribosome is made. The ribosome is the cellular machine that synthesizes proteins. My thesis project is on diseases that result due to defects in making the ribosome.”

Sondalle has ambitious plans. “I would like to be an independent physician-scientist, spending most of my time teaching and running a laboratory studying some aspect of molecular genetics or biochemistry while also seeing and taking care of patients one or two days a week,” he says. “I am not sure which medical specialty I will choose, but one thing I know is that I want to be a researcher. The thrill of discovery is unlike any other pleasure for me. Although helping patients directly is incredibly rewarding, the discoveries I can make in the lab will help more patients than I could ever see by myself.”

-Tsering Yangchen ’14
Madison, Wis.

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