Roni Touboul

Meet Roni Touboul, a UCLA senior majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics. Roni recently published two papers titled, “YY1 expression and PD-1 regulation in CD8 T lymphocytes” in ScienceDirect and “Defective Natural Killer Cells in Melanoma: Role of NKG2D in the Pathogenesis and Immunotherapy” in Critical Reviews in Immunology.

Roni currently works in Dr. Benjamin Bonavida’s lab in Microbiology, Immunology, & Molecular Genetics.

How did you first get involved in your research project?

As a freshman in high school, I developed a passion for research and it became a dream of mine to one day “cure cancer.” However, it was my interest in immunology once I started college at UCLA that drove me to begin searching for research in the Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) department. After emailing some professors whose research peaked my interest, I began doing research with Dr. Benjamin Bonavida and quickly realized that this was something I could see myself doing in the future. With the help of Dr. Bonavida I have learned about the specific mechanics of cancer and cells, expanded and refined my ability to critically analyze data and research from related papers, mastered search engines such as Google Scholar and PubMed, and learned to extrapolate data to create my own figures in scientific papers. Through this experience, I was able to continue doing research on cancer related topics like the one I am working on now that explores the question of how RKIP regulates Onco-T cell immunotherapy.


How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

I would describe my research experience at UCLA as extremely fulfilling in that I gained a wealth of knowledge and a mentor in the process. Both of which have been incredibly rewarding. I was able to see firsthand the multitude of opportunities undergraduates have available to them and personally utilized opportunities to publish studies, showcase my work, and apply new skills I have learned. In the process, I have become a better reader, writer, and critical thinker which are all skills that will take me further in both my professional and personal life. All in all, my research experience at UCLA is an excellent catalyst to achieving my post-graduate goals.


What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?

My singular piece of advice is to follow your passions. When met with two research options, the competitive atmosphere at UCLA, and other universities like it, can lead you to pick the one that is the “better” resume builder. However when you are researching a topic you are passionate about not only will you be more excited to learn and do the work, but you will find that the research will be easier to do. Furthermore, I would also advise students to take the time to make sure their capabilities will align with what they are asked to do. In other words, not only should students research a topic that they’re passionate about, but they should look for a lab that, for example, matches their time commitments and capabilities.

What are your future career goals?

Immediately following graduation, I want to pursue a career in laboratory research. I want to take the time to perfect my research abilities and learn more about how I can conduct my own research in the future. After this I believe that I will best be able to apply my skills by attending medical school and specializing in general surgery. A dream of mine would be to take these skills abroad and continue doing research so I can fulfill both my passions of research centered and patient centered work. I aspire to be a doctor that helps underserved communities in both the lab and the hospital.