Breakthroughs, the newsletter of the Feinberg School of Medicine Research Office

February 2024 Newsletter

Investigating Specialized Ribosomes during Poxvirus Infection

Read the Q & A below. 

Student Profile

Natalia Khalatyan is a fourth-year PhD student in the Driskill Graduate Program. 

Having grown up with a curiosity for science, Khalatyan decided to pursue her bachelor’s in biochemistry at University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Now in the laboratory of Derek Walsh, PhD, professor of Microbiology-Immunology, Khalatyan investigates how cellular environments react to infection. 

Where is your hometown?  

I am originally from a small town in Russia near Moscow called Protvino and moved to Chicagoland area with my family when I was 10.    

What sparked your interest in science or medicine?     

Both my parents are physicists by training along with my two older brothers and we often had scientific discussions as a family when I was a child. Although I was too young to understand and be involved, my family’s curiosity sparked my love for science. Throughout my studies I gravitated towards biology and that’s been my path ever since.  

What are your research interests?       

I am fascinated by the cellular environment and how intricate, delicate, yet robust it is when exposed to environmental stressors such as infections. I came to graduate school wanting to learn more about the interconnection of cellular processes.  

What are you currently working on?       

I am currently investigating specialized ribosomes during poxvirus infection in the lab of Derek Walsh in the Department of Microbiology-Immunology.   

Please tell us about a defining moment in your education at Feinberg thus far.     

This is a hard question because my entire education so far has been filled with defining moments! But the one that stands out is my qualifying exam. It was incredibly stressful, but I was proud of the research proposal I created and all the hard work that I put into it. It made me realize that I do belong here and capable of more than I previously imagined.  



What do you hope to do with your degree?   

I hope to educate the future generation about the wonders of biology and inspire them to be curious about the world around us.