David Alejandro Sanchez is first-generation, Colombian-American third year medical student at the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. While finishing his undergraduate studies at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering, he was accepted into the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Minority Summer Student Undergraduate Research Program where he was first introduced to infectious disease research via Joshua Nosanchuk’s fungal pathogenesis laboratory. His participation in this program led him to appreciate the challenging and stimulating arena of scientific investigation. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from New York University, Mr. Sanchez was offered a job as a technician in the same laboratory to continue building upon his skills as an investigator. As a technician, he worked on several independent projects, trained pre-doctoral/college students in microbiological techniques and was featured as first author and co-author on multiple publications.
Ultimately, his independent projects studying fungal pathogens endemic in both the United States and Latin American sparked an interest to continue pursuing tropical medicine in his future career as a physician-scientist. Upon starting his medical studies at Howard, Mr. Sanchez has won scholarships for his continued interest in research and for his academic success. Mr. Sanchez is currently the President of the Latino Medical Student Association chapter at Howard and takes great pride in mentoring freshman and sophomore medical students. Outside of medical school, Mr. Sanchez looks for any opportunity to visit his family and friends in New York, practice his Portuguese, and listen to live music.
Project: "A comparison of virulence associated protein content found in extracellularly secreted vesicles from Sporothrix brasiliensis and Sporothrix schenckii"
June 15, 2015 - July 18, 2015
What does the Kean Fellowship mean to you?
I was ecstatic to have received this award. I believe the Kean Fellowship afforded me the opportunity to establish a stronger connection to research in Brazil that truly impacts the disenfranchised communities that are disproportionately affected by infectious diseases like sporotrichosis.
What do you anticipate learning?
Beyond the wealth of clinical experience I gained this summer, I also learned about many of the obstacles that the people of Brazil must overcome in order to receive adequate healthcare. Many of the people living in the rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged sectors of inland Rio de Janeiro state have no other option but to commute for hours every couple of weeks to acquire free antifungal medications. Even with these hurdles, all the Brazilian patients always demonstrated incredible resilience in the face of adversity – whether it was living in the impoverished favelas, being affected my multiple co-morbidities, or having to miss out on pay from a workday just to see a doctor. My patients this summer were a true inspiration to continue working hard towards my career goals; I hope to one day come back to Rio to contribute my time as a physician focused on treating and learning more about these tropical diseases. Most importantly, I learned that I could eventually focus my career on ameliorating the burden of infectious diseases through research that could benefit parts of the world that have less access to treatment such as Latin America. Thanks to the Benjamin Kean Fellowship, I was able to marry my interests in the basic sciences and global health. This summer experience truly helped me find a potential niche within the field of tropical medicine.
What interests you about tropical medicine and what problems are you interested in solving?
I am drawn to tropical medicine because of my background. As a Colombian-American, I am very interested in diseases that affects the Latin American continent. Due to the socioeconomic disparities that afflict the people of Latin America, many folks are not receiving adequate therapeutics for treatment and eradication of tropical infections like feline-transmitted sporotrichosis. My goal as a future physician-scientist is to develop novel antimicrobial therapeutics that are both cheap and easily accessible to the people of Latin America.