Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Francisco Neal, Ph.D.

M.D./Ph.D. Student

Francisco completed his PhD in the lab of Patrick Sung, D.Phil. in May 2023. As a student in the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD Program), Francisco has transitioned back to medical school for his final two years of clinical training before an anticipated MD graduation of May 2025. Francisco’s graduate research focused on the DNA binding activity of BRCA2, with particular focus on the activity of the N-terminal DNA binding domain relative to the well-characterized C-terminal DNA binding domain. Additional work is planned to elucidate the role of the RAD51 paralogs in facilitating homology-directed repair. For his clinical specialty, Francisco is considering pursuing either radiation oncology or medical oncology.

About Me

My name is Francisco Neal, and I am a graduate student in the STX-MSTP. I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee, and I stayed there through my graduation from high school. I first came to Texas to pursue an undergraduate degree at Austin College. When beginning college, I originally intended to study Zoology, but I pivoted toward the biomedical sciences after gaining relevant research experience on and off campus. I joined the STX-MSTP just after graduating from college, so I did not get much time for additional research experience. Nevertheless, I felt that I was able to integrate into the MSTP quite readily, and I could not envision myself choosing another program. Outside of my studies at UT Health San Antonio, I enjoy a few different hobbies, including gaming, exercise, hiking, reading, and drawing. I find that maintaining a good variety of activities has kept me grounded and mentally balanced, particularly when work in graduate or medical school has proven demanding. I have not started a family of my own yet. Instead, I have been living with my brother while he pursues his own, non-STEM work. I also get the bonus of staying with his cat. I look forward to connecting with all trainees, new and current!


Reading, video games, hiking, exercise, drawing

Research Topic

Biochemistry of DNA repair

Why I chose MD/PhD

I took interest in pursuing a career that would enable me to use basic science as a vehicle to drive innovation in the treatment of cancer patients. I was predominantly interested in pursuing research in DNA repair and investigating how we could exploit DNA repair pathways to render cancer cells sensitive to different treatment modalities.

Why I chose MD/PhD at UT Health San Antonio

When first interviewing at UT Health San Antonio, I was impressed by the collegial vibe on campus - students across all of the pre-professional schools and faculty were very approachable and open to working with each other. The amicable vibe of UT Health is what predominantly drew me to this institution.


B.A., Molecular Biology, Austin College, 2017


2021-2026 NCI F30: F30CA260908 "Investigating contributions of BRCA2 DNA-binding domains toward maintaining genome integrity"