ASPIRE Medical Research Program Leadership


Dr. Tamar Gur, MD, PhD

Faculty Director, Assistant Professor

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as Faculty Director for this program. I care deeply about creating pathways for historically excluded individuals to pursue graduate degrees in the Biomedical Sciences. I’ve learned so much from these students already, and look forward to marveling in the trails they are sure to blaze in biomedical research."  

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Aaron Thomas

Program Coordinator

"Working with our students has been the privilege of a lifetime.  They are the smartest, most driven, most self-assured humans I have ever encountered.  Some say it’s a privilege to be in this program, but in serving them, the privilege is mine."

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2021 ASPIRE Students


Alexandra Martinez-Mendez

Undergraduate Major: Health Sciences

Medical Interest: Family Medicine - Rural Medicine

“The ASPIRE program has introduced me to so many amazing resources and opened doors I didn't even know were there. The support and confidence of the staff and my fellow ASPIRE members has created a lasting impression on me that I'm very grateful for." 

Dhairy Patel

Undergraduate Major: Pharmaceutical Sciences

Medical Interest: Pharmacy

“Even though my experience in the research realm of academia was very minimal, the ASPIRE program did an outstanding job getting me placed in a lab where my interests could flourish.” 

Esther Pascale

Undergraduate Major: Microbiology

Medical Interest: OBGYN

“The ASPIRE program has allowed me to access spaces and network with professionals that believe representation in medicine is important and care about my success.” 

Hayat Mekonen

Undergraduate Major: Public Health

Medical Interest: Family Medicine/Public Health

"I’m grateful to have found such an amazing community of supportive peers and mentors through the ASPIRE program. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much and make lifelong friendships/connections that I’ll definitely take with me on the rest of my journey into medicine."

Lauren Delfunt

Undergraduate Major: Microbiology

Medical Interest: Family Medicine - Disabilities


Leslie Simon

Undergraduate Major: Health Sciences

Medical Interest: Pediatrics

“Everyone should have the opportunity to make it in the health care field, no matter their identity or background. The ASPIRE Medical Research Program has given me amazing opportunities that I never could have imagined. Everyone is so welcoming and encouraging. I couldn’t imagine a better program to be a part of.” 

Mamadou M'Bello Diallo

Undergraduate Major: Medical Laboratory Science

Medical Interest: Cardiology

“ASPIRE inspired me to challenge myself, and not just settle for the basic.” 


Matthew Estrada

Undergraduate Major: Biology

Medical Interest: Microbial Infection and Immunity 

"With over 20 didactic seminars, a summer full of research, and a supportive team, the ASPIRE program has made a profound impact on my research interests. The ASPIRE program is a very well-rounded program that has made me more prepared not only for my career, but also for life. My experience in this program has given me great resources to achieve my goals, as well as many great opportunities for networking with established professionals and peers that will be my future colleagues." 

Rahwa Ghenbot

Undergraduate Major: Neuroscience

Medical Interest: Neurology/Public Health

"The ASPIRE program gave me insights to social aspects of medical care that I had not initially thought of. From didactics on greeting different cultures, to talks on what advocacy looks like as a physician, I really appreciated how passionately the guest speakers spoke for their causes. It was inspiring and affirming to see my values and ambitions reflected in modern medicine." 

Rebecca Worthington

Undergraduate Major: Neuroscience

Medical Interest: Pediatrics

“ASPIRE afforded me the opportunity to learn about the struggles and needs of those of different ethnicities, religions, disabilities, income levels, backgrounds, sexual orientations, or gender identities. I feel better prepared to aid in the movement to close the gaps in health inequalities and advocate for my future patients because of ASPIRE.” 

ASPIRE Cohorts

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The 2021 ASPIRE program cohort (from L-R): Dhairy Patel, Hayat Mekonen, Leslie Simon, Matthew Estrada, Rahwa Ghenbot, Rebecca Worthington, Alexandra Martinez-Mendez, Lauren Delfunt, Esther Pascal and Mamadou M'Bello Diallo. 
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The 2019 ASPIRE cohort (from L-R): (top)  Abdul Kaba, Nick Hamilton, McKinley Shawver, Andrea Ballinger; (bottom) Elvia Lozano Ortiz, Meron Yishak, Jahara Wakeel, Julia Catalano, Naniel Woode
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The 2018 ASPIRE cohort (from L-R): Leslie Jones, Dunni Adekunle-Adegbite, Jonaye Freeman, Mark Fongheiser, Sofia Herrera, Ladan Navari, Diana Hallak, Salma Shire

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