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UST Sets Medina Baitemirova ’15 on Her Life Path with Bioinformatics Degree

Alumna Earns Prestigious Knight-Hennessy Scholarship to Stanford

Medina Baitemirova '15The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford University has announced its 2020 cohort of 76 scholars, with students from 26 countries pursuing degrees in 39 graduate programs at Stanford.

UST’s Medina (Misha) Baitemirova ’15 is one of the Scholars

Included in the 2020 cohort is University of St. Thomas’ alumna Medina (Misha) Baitemirova ‘15 from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in bioinformatics.

She will pursue a master’s degree in biomedical informatics with a focus on artificial intelligence at Stanford School of Medicine.

“The best part is that I will be attending Stanford as part of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars community,” Baitemirova said. “The funding was and is fundamental: I wouldn’t be able to attend Stanford otherwise. However, I am looking forward to all the friendships and learning that come with being a KHS scholar. Being part of a community with an emphasis on purposeful leadership and leadership development is a unique and most valuable opportunity.”

Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program cultivates a diverse multidisciplinary community of emerging leaders from around the world and guides them to collaborate, innovate, and communicate as they prepare to address the complex challenges facing society.

“Their intellectual ability, diversity of backgrounds and experiences, and commitment to a better world give me much-needed hope in this challenging time, as the world faces its first true pandemic in 100 years,” said John L. Hennessy, president emeritus and the Shriram Family.

Baitemirova aspires to advance healthcare in underserved communities to help bridge the healthcare gap. Her startup Clinicai is developing tools for continuous health tracking and chronic disease detection at home.

She worked at Memomi Labs developing AR/AI digital mirrors and underwent entrepreneurial training at Singularity University. She has done research on the microbiome, DNA damage response, and gene modification using CRISPR-Cas9 at Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, NIBR, and the University of St. Thomas.

She received scholarships from the Open Society Foundation, Google, and Genentech.

Medina Never Thought She Would go to College

Amazingly, Baitemirova, never thought she would earn a college degree. She came to the United States in 2009 to study at Houston Community College via a scholarship from a foundation in Kyrgyzstan. The rest is history. She states she couldn’t have been happier with her decision to transfer to St. Thomas.

“One thing that not a lot of people know is that before UST I wasn’t really thinking of graduating from college, any college,” Baitemirova said. “Coming from a humble family in Kyrgyzstan, I just couldn’t think that a college degree was on the menu. However, with the help of the Biology Department and Dr. Ivany [former UST President], I managed to not only get a bachelor’s degree but hopefully, will be getting a graduate degree as well. The support of people in times of need had a great impact on me and my family,” she said.

UST to Novartis to Global Solutions Program to NASA to Start-up

Right after graduating, she spent one year in Cambridge, MA, at a post baccalaureate program at Novartis.

A year later, in the summer of 2016, Baitemirova was fortunate to get accepted to the Global Solutions Program at Singularity University that led her to Silicon Valley. She spent about five months living inside of NASA barracks at Moffett Federal Airfield where we studied exponential technologies and met experts from various industries.

“And this is where I met my co-founders at Clinicai,” Baitemirova said. “By the end of that program, I was also offered a job at a tech startup, called Memomi Labs, in Palo Alto {CA} as the director of Partnerships. This was a much loved job that took me to different places, including the Cannes Film Festival of 2018. In 2018, I transitioned out of Memomi Labs to run my own startup, Clinicai that secured its initial funding.”

Taking her Startup, Clinicai, to a New Level

Her plans upon graduation are to take her start-up Clinicai to the next level.

“My plan is to continue working on health tracking in a home setting as part of our work at Clinicai,” she said. “I believe that what we are working on will become critical in making healthcare more proactive and effective and I am attending Stanford with a goal of taking Clinicai to the next level.”

Casting Bread on the Water: Paying it back

Baitemirova has two more goals. She will mentor her little sister, Aisha, who currently attends UST, and she wants to give back to future students.

“I think of UST very often, and one day, I am hoping to provide the same help I got while studying there,” Baitemirova said. “There were multiple professors from different departments and other members of the UST community that shaped my journey, and I want to contribute to the community that I continue to appreciate.”