MD/PhD Statement

14 June 2010
I am pursuing the combined MD/PhD degree because I want to practice clinical medicine, teach, and perform research at an academic medical center. My initial interest in medicine was focused largely on practicing clinical medicine. I saw physicians curing people of diseases, and I wanted to be like them. This desire was further perpetuated through my shadowing experiences. I have shadowed a pediatrician, an oncologist, and a gastroenterologist. Interacting with doctors and patients has strengthened my interest in attending to patients. When I was shadowing the oncologist, I met a woman who had two mastectomies to remove breast cancer. At the post-surgical follow up, she was in tears because she said that she was no longer herself—I wished there was something that I could do. The doctor showed compassion for her, and helped her deal with her new situation. I want to be like him, and care for people in a clinical setting.

In addition to practicing clinical medicine, I want to educate others in medicine. While I have been a coach, a tutor, and a teaching assistant, I have developed a love for teaching. As a teaching assistant, I instructed a few lectures. These lectures were enjoyable to prepare and to teach. I liked sharing my knowledge with others and being able to help them understand the material presented. In addition, as a coach, I found satisfaction in teaching people of all ages how to swim properly and reach their goals. I know these attitudes will carry over into teaching at a medical school. I will find satisfaction in helping my students succeed inside and outside of the classroom, through formal instruction and through patient-physician interactions. Being an educator at a medical school will allow me to use my passion and desire for teaching to help others train to become physicians and properly care for their patients.

Another aspect of medicine that interests me is research, specifically researching immunology. I joined a biochemistry/immunology research group at the start of my junior year, and continued to work there for nearly two years. This group is focused on the biological mechanisms of HIV pathogenesis, reservoir formation in secondary lymphoid tissue, and increased infectivity with follicular dendritic cells (FDCs). The team is studying how to prevent or remove a reservoir of HIV from the body. We found a molecule that deactivates FDCs, which could possibly serve as a treatment for HIV/AIDS patients, and stop HIV reservoir formation in secondary lymphoid tissue. I have found research to be rewarding. It is challenging and I can discover something previously unknown, with the potential to help many who suffer from a particular disease. I want to continue to research to discover the unknown, and increase understanding of the human body and the diseases that affect it, given that basic research of the body and diseases will allow doctors to provide patients with a better quality of care and disease prevention.