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Alumni

Coming to America

Author cupharmacy | Publish Date June 29, 2016

Quoc Ho came to America when he was eight years old. The Vietnamese native arrived in California with his parents and two older sisters in 1996. As a third grader, the only language he knew was Vietnamese. "It was sink or swim, so I learned English quickly," recalls Ho. And that's been his modus operandi ever since -- learn the lay of the land quickly, and use the knowledge to propel forward.

After graduating from high school, Ho started undergraduate studies at UCLA and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics in 2011. While at UCLA, he was involved in a preclinical study for a prostate cancer drug, which is now in a phase 3 clinical trial in France. "I really liked it. I got hands on experience in the lab and was listed as an author on a published study. I kind of caught the research bug," says Ho.

During that time, he started to think about what he wanted to do in the future. "I was concerned that I would be boxed into research if I got a PhD and would have to rely on grants. I began to look at career paths where I could still practice clinically and do research, as well. Pharmacy rose to the top of my list. It was the closest to what I wanted to do."

Ho has taken advantage of every opportunity provided to him. During his fourth year of pharmacy school, he specifically signed up for a rotation with Allergan. He was selected because of his background in research. His preceptor was alumnus Kevin Kerr (PharmD '09). "I looked at the rotation as a six-week interview, and got to know them very well," says Ho.

As a consequence of the rotation and the relationships he built, Ho lined up a fellowship with Allergan immediately following graduation. His research will be on age related macular degeneration and finding a drug that halts the progression of the disease. "There's really no treatment on the market, so there's huge unmet need," says Ho. "I'll be working on creating a study, obtaining the data, analyzing it and publishing. It’s really going to be exciting."

When Ho walked at this year's commencement, he was the first in his entire family to receive a doctorate. In addition to his PharmD, Ho earned minors in hard work, drive and determination.

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