Zach Barbati ’10

Class of 2010, Major in Biology

My experience at MMC challenged me not only to study the basic sciences in a typical linear sequence, but rather to integrate coursework in sociology, language, and philosophy into the Biology major courses.


After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Zachary Barbati ’10 received the Copenhagen Master of Excellence Scholarship Award, enabling him to study at the University of Copenhagen from 2010-12, where he spent two years conducting research and pursuing other academic work. Now a graduate student at Harvard Medical School (HMS), he is focusing his work on immunology. Under the supervision of Dr. Arlene Sharpe, he is conducting research on T cells in the context of autoimmunity and cancer, specifically studying the importance of selenium-containing proteins in T cell activation. He was featured on Harvard’s 2015–16 Dean’s Report and presented his research at the HMS Master Programs Research Day, held on March 7, 2016.

Looking back on his time at MMC, Barbati said he can still remember test questions on the exams he took in classes like Biochemistry and Physiology. He credits Dr. Judith Hanks and Dr. Benedetta Sampoli-Benitez with challenging him to think holistically about approaching scientific problems and thinking creatively about solving research problems.

“I started college with little background in the natural sciences. But within a few short years, faculty from the Division of Sciences at MMC provided me with the skills necessary for success in both my graduate and professional endeavors. Coursework in social science, philosophy, and religious studies have uniquely prepared me to consider the impact that research, in both the basic sciences and biomedicine, has on individuals and communities at large.”

Currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Barbati considers himself a food enthusiast. He also spends time in the gym and focuses on his personal health. In the fall of 2016, he began medical school, where he transitioned away from research and engaged in clinical efforts.

This spotlight originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of MMC Magazine.

My experience at Marymount Manhattan College has made a lasting impact on my life, both personally and professionally. I matriculated into Marymount Manhattan College with very little idea about where I saw myself in the future. I had interests in the fine arts, religion, and the natural sciences, and had very little idea about what it entailed to pursue any of these Faculties in an academic or professional sense. After indiscriminately declaring myself as a biology major, I found myself immersed in one of the College’s most rigorous and comprehensive programs. My experience at Marymount Manhattan College challenged me not only to study the basic sciences in a typical linear sequence, but rather to integrate coursework in sociology, language, and philosophy into the Biology major courses. Furthermore, I felt challenged by my mentors to continually revisit foundational concepts in advanced classes, so as to reinforce key concepts that are important for developing a strong foundation in the biological sciences.

After graduating with my B.S. in Biology in 2010, I pursued further coursework at the University of Copenhagen, where I received a full scholarship and living stipend for two years of work and study. After moving back to the U.S.A. in 2012, I have had the opportunity to perform research in both the basic and clinical sciences, as well as be published as the co-author in two peer-reviewed scientific journals. After several years of working as a Research Assistant and teaching as an Adjunct Professor here in New York City, I am happy to say that I will be returning to school in the Fall to pursue the study of Immunology at Harvard Medical School. I believe strongly that my success thus far is due largely in part to the personalized and excellent training that I received as an undergraduate at Marymount Manhattan College. Without the guidance and support I received from the faculty and community at large at Marymount Manhattan College, I may never have learned about my talent and passion for the natural sciences.