The journey continues: Micevic receives Soros Fellowship

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Read more about Goran Micevic’s journey in the winter issue of Link magazine.

Goran Micevic (biochemistry, ’10) is one of 30 recipients of the 2016 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants. The fellowship, which is awarded to fewer than two percent of applicants, goes to students selected for their potential to make significant contributions to American society, culture, or their academic field. Micevic was selected from a pool of 1,443 applicants.

Goran Micevic is from Chicago, where he was born to Yugoslavian physicians on a research fellowship in the United States. Soon after the fellowship concluded, the family returned to Yugoslavia, where Micevic grew up in the midst of turmoil and war. At the age of 12, he was seized by secret police and interrogated because of his status as an American citizen. He was sent to Macedonia as a refugee, later returning to Yugoslavia under a different name to reunite with his family.

As a high school student, he knew he wanted to pursue a career as a physician researcher and would likely need to go to America to do it. His high school library had few English language textbooks, but one would change Micevic’s life.

That book was "Biochemistry: The Chemical Reactions of Living Cells," by David Metzler, a now deceased Iowa State University professor of biochemistry. The book is highly respected in the field, but how it ended up in a high school library in Belgrade, Serbia, is anyone’s guess. Micevic devoured the nearly 2,000-page tome. For Micevic, Metzler’s book came to symbolize the laboratories and collaborative research that could await him at Iowa State.

“I couldn’t take the SAT in Serbia, so I went to Macedonia to take it. I did well enough to get admission, and soon received a letter from Iowa State welcoming me to the class of 2010,” he said.

His research at Iowa State University on histone modifications and gene expression earned him a Goldwater scholarship and visiting fellowships at the German Cancer Research Center and Mayo Clinic. After graduating from Iowa State, Micevic enrolled in the Yale M.D./Ph.D. program and began investigating melanoma epigenetics in the Department of Experimental Pathology. His melanoma research has led to awards from the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation and the American Skin Association, as well as a fellowship from the National Cancer Institute.

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans were founded in 1997, and have awarded more than 550 fellowships. Fellows receive up to $90,000 in funding for the graduate program of their choice. The 2016 Fellows, all under 30, come from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, and are naturalized citizens, green card holders, DACA recipients, or the children of immigrants.