Feature Stories Alumni: Haim Gal Moore ’18: From studying biology at UMassD to medicine at UMass Chan

CAS alum
Now at UMass Chan, Moore is eager to learn how to best serve the medical needs of others.
Feature Stories Alumni: Haim Gal Moore ’18: From studying biology at UMassD to medicine at UMass Chan
Haim Gal Moore ’18: From studying biology at UMassD to medicine at UMass Chan

Now a second-year student at UMass Chan Medical School, Moore’s interests in the immunology of cancer and related research adventures stemmed from his time at UMassD.

Picture this: Classroom labs buzzing with the hum of unabashed curiosity as students with an affinity for the sciences measure mixtures in glass beakers and drip solutions into test tubes with pipettes. It’s an environment where inquisitive thoughts transform into experimental hypotheses, where the empowerment of intelligence and the freedom of creativity converge to craft the next generation of scientists, poised to contribute to the landscape of the industry’s ever-evolving future.

There was something about the atmosphere of a lab that lured Haim Gal Moore ’18 to come to know and love the art of science. When he began his higher education journey at a college in New York, there was little doubt in his mind that he wanted to study biology and possibly pursue a pre-med track. However, after one year, he concluded that he would be happier at a university closer to home and with a classic, high quality public education.

“I wanted to go to a state school to be close to home and be near my family,” Moore said. “I had more support that way. UMass Dartmouth was one of the only universities in the area with a rolling admissions program, so they gave me a chance. I ended up getting accepted into the Honors College as well.”

Moore’s morale was also boosted because there was a familiar face he often sought in crowds of Corsairs; it was his older sister that let him be her shadow until he felt more comfortable on campus. It didn’t take long for Moore to begin making connections with esteemed College of Arts & Sciences faculty and exploring boundless research opportunities available to students.

“I didn’t really know what to expect going into UMass Dartmouth, but years later in hindsight, it really was a great campus and school that gave me all the opportunities and mentorship I could have ever asked for,” Moore said. “This university gave me a chance to practice leadership and hone my skills; it really prepared me for what was to come.”

Moore discovers dual passions

Since biology was a life-long interest that exhilarated him, Moore immediately began taking courses in that field to see if this interest would blossom at UMass Dartmouth. Upon his arrival to Ring Road, he took Professor Benjamin Winslow’s introductory biology class that encouraged him to keep going down that rabbit hole and pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology.

However, taking engaging classes didn’t quench Moore’s thirst for an enriching education. He admits he was a very eager high school student that loved the lab, so he immediately sought to get involved in research at UMassD to strengthen his scientific skillset and explore what topics interested him the most.

One of his first research assignments was observing plant root proliferation under soil, but using DNA barcodes with Dr. Robert Drew. This year-long project forced Moore to practice with new techniques and fields that he wasn’t used to, pushing him out of his comfort zone in the best possible way. It made him appreciate the ebb and flow of research that came along with being fresh in the lab, of learning new concepts that would make him a better scientist in the long run.

Alum and CAS professor
Moore was recognized for his research with Dr. Drew, photographed above at the 2018 UMassD Biology Awards ceremony.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking research initiative he participated in was with Dr. Kathryn Kavanagh, his academic advisor that let him join her lab and begin learning how research is conducted as a life-long career. With a focus on evolutionary development research, Moore and Dr. Kavanagh looked at things like the variability of skeletal patterning of different animals.

“When I first started working with Dr. Kavanagh, I was looking at rib patterning in chick embryos, so I got this cool experience of working with real embryos and doing surgery on pre-hatched chickens to remove their organs and view them under a microscope,” Moore said. “It was very intense, but Dr. Kavanagh walked me through every step and was incredibly supportive. She became a research mentor to me."

Dr. Kavanagh also broadened Moore’s research horizons when she began working on an interdisciplinary project with a Harvard University bioengineering lab. “The Harvard lab had published a paper that showed the characteristic physical shape and folds of the brain can be organized by the multiple layers of cells growing at different rates during development, as opposed to the field of developmental biology, which focuses more on the genetic and molecular markers that drive development.

“The paper discussed two different layers of tissue cells that are interacting and creating a physical shape as the organ is growing, so that related to Dr. Kavanagh’s research on limb development and finger, or phalange, patterning,” Moore continued. “I thought it was really cool to be able to collaborate with a different lab and it involved so much, like getting the chicks, taking just their arms out of their embryos, doing an immunofluorescent stain, and using one of the biology department’s high-powered microscope to observe your findings.”

While he fell in love with research at UMassD, Moore simultaneously took a year of immunology courses with Dr. Erin Bromage that served as an awakening to his secondary passion of immunology. He said, “Dr. Bromage was really supportive of me and other students who didn’t have a background in immunology to start. He walked us through everything, and his classes made me want to study more in this field. If I never took immunology courses with Dr. Bromage, I would never have moved toward my career interest in cancer immunology and medicine.”

The biology department and its faculty ended up playing a pivotal role in Moore’s academic growth and shaping his career path. The coursework he completed in immunology classes, hands-on research opportunities that gave him unique skills, and mentorship provided by professors couldn’t have prepared him better for an early career in research and medicine.

Alum & family at white coat ceremony
Moore's family beams with pride alongside him at his White Coat Ceremony.

More to medicine than science

As his time at UMass Dartmouth came to an end in January 2018, Moore had two paths he could explore: medical school or research work. He said, “Instead of applying directly to medical school, I felt like I needed to see another level of research and go somewhere where the cutting-edge translational science is performed. I want to understand what exactly about the biomedical continuum that I really like. Is it more about the preclinical basic science in the lab or is it more about the clinical side of what’s actually happening to patients?”

For two years, Moore worked at the Broad Institute of Cambridge, specifically as part of their cancer program. His job was to take patient samples of rare tumors and try to turn them into cell models using new supplements or technologies. While the work was fulfilling, the experience helped him realize that the patient aspect of the biomedical continuum really did matter to him.

In 2022, Moore graduated with his Master’s in Immunology from Harvard Medical School. In the midst of his studies there, he still massaged his love for research by joining Dr. Lydia Lynch’s lab at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, working with innate T cells, specifically a subset called Gamma Delta T cells in colorectal cancer. Now, he is a second-year student at UMass Chan Medical School, a resident tutor at the Lowell House at Harvard University, and part of the pre-med committee that helps students apply to medical school.

“My biggest challenge is that everything interests me,” Moore said. “I’m going into my year of clinical rotation starting in March 2024, and I am really excited to experience new things. However, I’m most interested in how we can innovate immunology and oncology to improve patient outcomes. There’s a lot of adverse effects that immunotherapies are having on patients and while their outcomes are better than ever before, these are still things they have to deal with long-term.”

While the days are long and tough in medical school, Moore clings to one thing to keep him motivated: treating his future patients. He explained, “Eventually, I’ll get to work with patients on their health needs and whatever else is going on in their lives that’s affecting them. How unique of an opportunity it will be to give them a better understanding of themselves in some way.”