M. Bishr Omary was born in New York City, New York, one of three children. His parents were Syrian Kurds, and the family moved back to Syria when Omary was four. They returned to the Washington D.C. area when Omary was in tenth grade. He attended a large public high school in Arlington, Virginia, and worked there as a chemistry lab assistant.
Omary attended George Mason University, both for affordability and the option to live at home. He majored in chemistry, doing well toward the end of college. He chose the University of California, San Diego for his PhD. He was awarded his degree from UCSD, but Omary actually worked under Ian Trowbridge at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies. In Trowbridge’s lab he began working on characterizing cell-surface molecules, using biochemical techniques. He decided to go to medical school as a back-up plan. Omary obtained his MD from the University of Miami School of Medicine and did his residency in internal medicine at the University of California, Irvine. His fellowship in gastroenterology was followed by alternating years of research and clinic, culminating in three months in a clinic in Liverpool, England.
Knowing he wanted to go back to research and armed with a number of publications, Omary accepted an offer from Stanford University’s Department of Medicine. His lab is still small but growing; his is funded from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. He likes gastroenterology, and the VA Hospital where he spends his clinic time provides him with patients. He is working on epithelial cell-surface molecules in the intestines, with the intention of discovering new molecules and characterizing their functions so as to understand what regulates their growth. He wants to know which polyps are good and which can safely be ignored and what causes the bad ones to be bad. He imagines that he will always want to be working at the bench, preferably in a medium-sized lab, and doing some clinical work as well.
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